Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
I learned a couple new words this week…both of which seem relevant for the times in which we are living. The first is doomscrolling – the practice of obsessively checking online news for updates, especially on social media feeds, with the expectation that the news will be bad…such that the feeling of dread from this negative expectation fuels a compulsion to continue looking for updates in a self-perpetuating cycle. The other is infodemic – a massive amount of widely and rapidly circulating information about a particular crisis or controversial issue, consisting of a confusing combination of fact, falsehood, rumor, and opinion.
 
These words are both new enough my computer doesn’t recognize them as correct spellings…I understand the need for the creation of new nomenclature for writers trying to craft language describing our times and habits with regards to the caustic election and rampant pandemic. Add the required social distancing and not gathering with others as we want or enjoy…it is easy to understand why the American psyche has ebbed to the breaking point. Make sure you are doing what you can/need to keep your spirits up!!
 
Ottawa Recreation Commission:
 
The Ottawa Recreation Commission invited Chamber members this morning to meet Levi Meyer and officially welcome him to Ottawa (pictures here). Levi is the new director of recreation in Ottawa and poised to do great things. This morning he outlined his vision going forward, introduced his staff and talked about existing recreation opportunities provided by the ORC. The ORC, as everyone is, are challenged by not being able to gather and create programming…and like everyone, is being forced to think outside the box. I mentioned Levi a while back when he was first hired…but it is hard to get to know someone new when we never hold meetings or gatherings – and also make them feel welcome. I continue to be impressed with him and fully believe Levi will lead Ottawa in the right direction helping us to create healthy lifestyles with innovative programming. 
 
Education Revelations:
 
I had the unique opportunity this week to be in a meeting (via Zoom of course) with several of our local education officials…what a great grasp they each have on their organizations and their roles in educating the youth of the Franklin County community. Dr. Brian Inbody from Neosho County Community College, Dr. Eric Koch from Ottawa University and Dr. Ryan Cobbs from USD 290 all discussed their visions for education and preparing youth for life and the workforce…from pre-school through a post-secondary degree, they have it covered. Locally, we have an innate responsibility to give our students the tools they need to enter adulthood and perform with a skill – including soft skills such as communications, being on time and being respectful. One goal in this community has always been to grow as much of our own workforce as possible. When kids which grow up in this community, stay or move back here to raise families, they make great citizens…we need to be sure we are creating enough jobs for them to earn living wages. What a great advantage to have such a fantastic public school system, a community college and 4-year liberal arts college…all here in Ottawa!! I should also mention Paul Bean, Franklin County Development Council Director is doing an awesome job in coordinating efforts between the three institutions…workforce development is part of his job description. In this day, developing workforce is something about which a community must be specifically deliberate…this includes developing reliable workers for our industries – present and future.  
 
Last Call:
 
This is really the last call for you to join the raffle to help purchase fireworks for this summer’s Chautauqua Festival display…the drawing is this afternoon at 5:00 – the ticket purchase closes at 4:00…there are only a few hours left. You have a choice to buy a chance to receive either $500.00 of free groceries or free ammo…it is an easy way to help make this summer’s fireworks show be a big success.  Here is the link to make your purchase for either $10.00 for 1 ticket or $25.00 for 3 tickets…greatly appreciate all who help make this community event a huge success!! 
 
Memory Lane Christmas Tree Farm:
 
It is always a fun excursion for our grandkids to go with grandpa and grandma to pick our annual Christmas Tree at Harry and Juanita Peckham’s Memory Lane Christmas Tree farm near Rantoul. And what great weather we’ve had this week to do outings…brace yourself – it is all changing beginning this weekend with the forecast of snow. Here are pictures of Jase and Evie having fun on the homemade slippery slides and the hay bale maze. Harry announced at our Chamber Coffee this morning the Farm has a new feature this year…the Memory Tree (pictures here), a large and very old Oak tree with Christmas lights. The light show is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from 5:30-9:00 through Christmas eve…and what a safe outing – you don’t even have to get out of your car if you don’t want to.
 
COVID:
 
The news on the pandemic is slightly better this week…really unchanged – which is positive since the previous 2-weeks the numbers grew at a fast rate. The active cases are down by one this week, from 192 to 191…and there are no new deaths (remaining at 17).  Our positivity percentage is dropping too…from a high of 23.66% in October, the rate has dropped to 15.89% the last 2-weeks. Click here to see the COVID numbers by Franklin County address location and here for the December 9 report.
 
As with any crisis there are always good things which come from the bad. When West Franklin recently had to close their schools due to COVID it causes complications with providing school at home and work for our daughter Jessica…here is a picture of my mom helping Evie (our 6-year old first-grade granddaughter) with school. Mom was a 25-year teacher in Ottawa…we’ve had to reprise her teaching skills to help with homeschooling and work schedules.
 
Christmas is 2-weeks from today…be sure to swing into downtown Ottawa to purchase that unique gift for that hard to buy for person!!
 
Stay safe…talk to you next week.
 
Onward ~ John 
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000