Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
I’m sure most realize all the haze in our air is smoke from the west coast…what a deal – those fires out there. Instead of those high blue autumn skies we expect on a fall day in Kansas, we are having hazy almost smoggy days. I feel sorry for all the people affected by the fires and also the most active hurricane season we are seeing in the Gulf this year. Plagues, fires, hurricanes, floods…2020 continues to challenge us. The words “Biblical Proportions” comes to mind…even the plagues of Egypt didn’t happen all at once!!
 
The local COVID report is better this week…this is especially good news in light of school starting back up and more people beginning to gathering in similar locations than has transpired most of the summer. Our total is up 7 this week and the number of active cases is down to 22…full report here. Ottawa University reported this week they are suspending football and baseball for 2 weeks because of a positive case of one student on each team…players are self-isolating until cleared (here is the press release). It is always good to use an abundance of caution in cases like this. In a meeting this week, USD 290 Superintendent Ryan Cobbs reported the district has spent approximately $1 million preparing the schools to be safe for staff and students and comply with all the requirements of technology and safety…these dollars will be reimbursed with federal CARES Act funds – still…this pandemic is expensive!!
 
Sales Tax:
 
This also continues to be very positive…local sales tax dollars continue to run at higher collection levels than all previous years – and the report takes into account any increase in collection percentages…so the comparison of years is apples to apples. I’m sure some of the increase is more people shopping locally in light of being unable to travel. Still…the numbers are impressive and quite frankly a relief for local budgeters. Continue to support our local businesses…it keeps our dollars here at home!
 
Another Local Leader Leaving:
 
I was sad to learn this week City Clerk Amy Finch is leaving Ottawa to take a City Administrator job in Crookston, Minnesota…congratulations on the new gig – sad to see Amy leave. If you look at the map, Crookston is about 2-clicks from the Canadian border…can’t believe it isn’t already snowing up there (don’t forget to pack your coat)! Amy and I have worked together for the last 10-years…we both were at Kansas State Bank together and she went to the City Clerk position about the same time I came to the Chamber. She is a very positive person who has done good things for the Ottawa community…best of luck Amy – check in from time-to-time. 
 
Positive Updates on Main Street:
 
Here is something I’m very happy to report…we have 4 new businesses on Main Street recently (or in some cases – soon to be). To be fair, 2 are the continuation of existing stores with new owners and two are completely new offerings – a music store and western wear. Welcome to the Main Street and thank you for keeping our retail options strong. 
  • Dangerous Toys at 424 S. Main Street has been purchased by Chrystal Davis-Taylor and her husband Chris hoping to open October 10. They will continue chain saw sales and service and are adding a fulltime mechanic to shorten turnaround time on repairs.
  • Southern Bliss at 230 S. Main has been owned by Becky and Sam Hastings for 3 years, but they are transitioning the store from being vendor booths to owner-managed retail. They have added a complete line of children’s clothes and expanded craft vinyl offerings. 
  • The completely new store will be a music store going in at 206 S. Main Street owned by Katie Woogie and Devin Shultz…they will facilitate an instrument rental program and also offer private music lessons, repairs, accessories and new instrument sales.
  • Main Street Western Wear at 216 S. Main Street is new and owned by Saundra Zook. She has a large selection of men and women’s western wear, including boots.
 
Unique stores and offerings continue to expand in our downtown…even in light of the pandemic. Instead of “Ladies Night Out”, the Chamber is planning a “Ladies Day Downtown” on October 2. This year will be more of a sidewalk sale so social distancing can be maintained…and also will run longer (from 1:00-7:00) to allow participants to spread visits over an expanded period instead of a big wave all the same time. We also have secured a couple of sponsors which will allow us to handout $1,000.00 of free Chamber Currency that will only be good for purchases during the event. Put this on your calendar…it is a great time to visit the new businesses and support all our downtown retailers. 
 
Art Auction:
 
It was a very enjoyable evening last night at the Corner Market in the The Gallery at the Halloren where we kicked off the silent auction of Dr. Reggies Wenyika’s paintings (few pictures here)…all proceeds donated to Friends of COF. Don’t worry if you missed it…you can still see the paintings and bid on the art pieces by clicking here. I’m truly amazed at Reggies’ work…he only began painting after coming to Ottawa 2-years ago. I asked about his inspiration…he says sometimes I’m just sitting in my chair and feel inspired and begin painting. Other times, his son, who is developmentally disabled, starts a painting and Reggies adds to it and finishes it…whatever – they are certainly unique and interesting…which is my exact definition of what art should be! Please jump in the bidding and support COF…this is another great community partner we must continue to back!
 
Senator Jerry Moran:  
 
When I signed off last week I was headed to meet and visit with Jerry Moran, our State of Kansas U.S. Senator. Jerry was in town to talk healthcare and met with officials at AdventHealth Ottawa…pictures here. I have always liked Jerry since the first time I met him in Washington D.C. in 1996, when he was then representing the Kansas District 1 in the House of Representatives. You always get the impression he is a real Kansan and has our state interests at heart. Healthcare is for sure a moving target now…as it usually is. COVID has brought with it another new paradigm of financial challenges and problems. Dallas Purkeypile, CEO AdventHealth Ottawa, and Stacy Steiner, the Chief Clinical Officer went into great detail explaining Ottawa’s unique set of circumstances and challenges. The Senator has a good grasp on it and will work diligently on our behalf…thanks for your service Jerry – it is greatly appreciated!
 
Grill Raffle: 
 
Time is running out to purchase your grill raffle tickets…you can do so by clicking here. The proceeds from the raffle go to support Legacy Square. As a bonus…Dale Pearson of Modern Woodman has agreed to match all income from the sale of raffle tickets. Therefore you are doubling your support for every dollar you spend on tickets. Thanks Dale…and thanks to all who have already purchased tickets. Come by the office if you don’t want to purchase online…we’ll get you hooked up!
 
The drawing will be next Tuesday at The Corner Market on September 22 at 6:15…you don’t need to be present to win…but if you are, there will be other door prizes. Plan on coming by the Market on the 22nd…have a drink or evening meal and join in the fun of giving away prizes and the grill…it should be a pleasant evening out! We are calling the event a “Mask-erade”…wear your most unique and interesting mask. Come join the fun!   
 
Family Movie Night:
 
I hope I see you this evening at the free family movie night in Legacy Square (sponsored by the Chamber, Library, OMA and ORC)…should be a beautiful evening – maybe bring a jacket. The movie will be Disney’s Onward…free popcorn and the ice cream truck will be parked in the Square. 
 
Here are a couple grandkid pictures from picking pumpkins in grandpa and grandma’s garden last weekend.
 
Got to run to help set up the movie screen for this evening…stay safe – talk to you next week.
 
Onward ~ John
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000