Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
Someone suggested to me this week the bar has been set awfully low for 2021…we don’t have to have much of a year for it to be an improvement from 2020. Still…up to this point it seems we are giving 2020 a run for the money!! This last week we ebbed to a new bottom when we had our second impeachment of a U.S. President in 13-months…prior to this it had been 130 years between impeachments (from Andrew Johnson to Bill Clinton…Nixon slipped by the indignation by resigning). To date, with the three previous impeachments, there has never been a president removed from office through the process.
 
This might look different…beginning next week, the Republicans lose control of the Senate. President Trump will most certainly be put on trial and I think the odds are better than 3 in 4 he will be convicted. Because we have never paddled in these waters before, there is much disagreement as to what this actually means to impeach a president after he is already out of office. Many feel he would lose the right to ever run for or hold any elected office again…and that he would forfeit his $200,000.00 annual pension, health insurance, travel expenses and security detail – all paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Others disagree…whichever the case – we are living through history which will be cussed, discussed and studied for years to come!! 
 
COVID Report:
 
And of course the other beast we are still battling is the pandemic. The Franklin County numbers are encouraging this week…down 52 active cases to 142 – unfortunately with one new death to move the fatality number to 19 (total numbers here). There are currently 9 hospitalizations. The percent positivity is dropping…down to 13.7% – under 10% is what the CDC reports as acceptable. Kansas Governor, Laura Kelly and Dr. Lee Norman, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported this week Kansas is one of only 3 states in the nation to currently be reporting a downward trend. The Governor also promised the vaccination rates would improve…the latest number will show Kansas at 17th in the nation in terms of getting people vaccinated. 
 
Vaccinations are ongoing in Franklin County…the county health department has received 560 doses of vaccine and in the process of administering to health workers and those on the frontline of the COVID war…this doesn’t include the vaccine AdventHealth Ottawa received for their staff and senior care facilities which were vaccinated through a nationwide contract with CVS, Walgreens and the State of Kansas. My brother, sisters and I were all pleased to learn our 88-year old mother will receive her vaccination next week. She had called and got on the list and was called with her appointment time yesterday (785.229.3531 to get on the list). I can’t wait until all this isn’t news anymore…it can’t happen fast enough!!
 
Transition of Power:
 
The transition of power happened quietly and without fanfare in Ottawa this week…Tom Weigand stepped down from being Mayor and Sara Caylor was installed for her fourth time to be Ottawa’s top elected official. Commissioner Eric Crowley was selected as Mayor Pro Tem.   We are close to a time in history when our elected local officials are the last remaining form of true democracy…we have access to them, they live with us and under the same rules and regulations which they impose, they pay the same taxes as they assess on everyone else. Thanks to the aforementioned commissioners and also Blake Jorgensen and Mike Skidmore which round out our City Commission (here is a picture of the commission).
 
Franklin County held a similar ceremony…Colt Waymire will remain as the commission chair and Ianne Dickinson is still vice-chair. Rounding out the County Commission are Roy Dunn, Don Stottlemire, and newly elected commissioner, Rod Harris…Rod is new enough the county doesn’t have his picture yet – here are the other four.
 
Donor Plaque at Legacy Square: 
 
The donor plaque was placed on the northside of the restroom facility as Legacy Square this week (pictures here). If the pictures don’t allow you to find your name, check it out this week if you are driving by…I think it looks pretty good!! There are almost 150 names on the recognition list…which includes local companies and individuals. Building Legacy Square was quite an effort this community took on and completed. Opening in the fall of 2019…2020 wasn’t what we had envisioned for the first-year rollout! Here’s hoping we are able to enjoy many public events in the Square this summer. 
 
Chris Patton:
 
Here’s a big thank you and congratulations to Chris Patton who has been at the head of the COF Training Services for the last 10-years…COF hosted Chamber members this morning at the ORC facility to allow everyone to show appreciation and celebrate Chris’ service. About 30 people came out on a cold, snowy, January morning to recognize Chris (pictures here). Like all social services, providing care and guidance to developmentally disabled poses huge funding and management challenges. I can attest Chris has been a champion…I served on the COF Board for 5-years. Chris has excelled in serving our community in a position which most don’t want or couldn’t do if they wanted to…it takes a special person to spend a lifetime working in this field. Chris has spent 40-years…we have been lucky the last 10-years of his service has been in Ottawa!!
 
Annual Banquet and Auction:
 
I have been so impressed with the community’s response to donations to our banquet and also the ticket sales. The Chamber’s annual banquet is always our year’s largest fundraiser. We were afraid this year without the ability to actually gather, we would pass on the event. Our Ambassador Committee charged forth with the idea of creating an evening out for our members and began requesting donations for the auction…we have had awesome donations come in (pictures here of our board room). Ticket sales for the event have been good too. There are only a few tickets left…we capped the event at 150 tickets. We are down to under 15 tickets left – call today if you want in on the fun. I will say…even if you don’t purchase a ticket, (you will miss out on the great Ottawa swag) you can still come to PrimeTime Grille to eat the week of January 22-28 and bid on the auction items. We are hoping it will be fun…there are great items from sports pictures featuring the Chiefs and Royals, a 55” Visio television and a drone equipped with a camera…all available to bid on. Hope to see you there!!
 
This has been one of those weather weeks that has gone full circle…from 60 degrees on Wednesday to snow and ice today. I guess we expect this in Kansas!! Our kids from down south are coming for the weekend…we missed them at Christmas because they all had COVID. I will probably have a few last Christmas pictures for you next week.
 
Stay warm and safe…talk to you next week.
 
Onward ~ John 
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000