Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
Happy Kansas Day…our state is 160-years old today. Early Kansas history fascinates me…Bloody Kansas and the Border Wars – all spurned over the politics and ideology of slavery. People traveled to Kansas to establish residency and influence our state’s vote to be a slave state or free-state…protecting the precious balance of free and slave-states in the U.S. Congress in the 1850s. Most came from Missouri (a slave state since 1821) to vote pro-slavery. All this gerrymandering of sorts led to John Brown versus the Missouri Ruffians and the burning of Lawrence. In Kansas we were fighting the (un) Civil War 10-years before the nation jumped into the fray. 
 
It took 4-ballots over several years to approve the first Kansas Legislature…finally, in May 1855, the first official Kansas Legislature was seated and voted Kansas to be a free state. In the first actual vote more ballots were cast than registered voters in the state…how’s that to have 105% voter turnout!!. No need to think the 2020s have the market cornered on voter fraud…it’s been part of our nation’s fabric from very early on.
 
Did you know anyone born in Kansas is officially a “Jayhawker” (albeit I would prefer Wildcat!!). The term Jayhawker originated to shame people from Kansas as being thieves or robbers. Soon citizens of Kansas adopted the moniker as a badge of honor – “tough old birds!!”…kind of the same way our early national revolutionists adopted the nickname “Yankee Doodle!!” Obviously, this story is much longer (and convoluted) to go into much more detail here…suffice to say – if you are unfamiliar with the story it’s a great read. 
 
Chamber Annual Banquet:
 
Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who participated in the Chamber’s Family and Friends Fun Night Out and Annual Auction. The auction closed last night (Thursday)…and with your support the Chamber raised over $9,000.00 to boost the Chamber’s community work for 2021. Mallory Hull chaired the Ambassador Committee made up of Karen Walburn, Janet Slifer, Donna Ferguson, Nancy Swafford, Glora Mathews and Lori Brockus…a big tip of the hat to them for putting together a COVID safe, a fun community experience which still allowed us to raise funds. I must mention Sherri Lund, Chamber Office manager who helped organize the committee and Ryland Miller, Community Liaison, for all their work on logistics. We might continue this event with something similar going forward…this COVID thing makes us leave our comfort zones and think outside of the box!! Thanks again to all our donors and sponsors – listed here…and to all who bought tickets and bid on items.
 
COVID Update:
 
Again this week the local COVID number are downward trending…down another 15 active cases from 74 to 59 infected citizens, and no new deaths. Also…no hospitalizations currently – here is the report from October 27. I’m not suggesting letting your guard down one bit…but optimistically maybe we have this viral plague turned the other way. I continue to hear of local citizens receiving the vaccine and our community leaders at the County Health Department, AdventHealth Ottawa and USD 290 schools working together to coordinate vaccination times and locations. Call 785.229.3531 to get on the list so you can be notified of your appointment time! Currently there is 5.1% of Kansans vaccinated which accounts for just under 400,000 people in the State receiving their shot…some only one shot at this time and waiting for the second – others are now fully vaccinated. We knew this would be a challenging rollout. It’s not every day you set out to vaccinate every American citizen…there are bound to bumps in the procedures – but they are picking up speed. Hopefully by summer everyone will begin feeling safer.
 
2021 First Legislative Coffee:
 
The 2021 Kansas Legislature is off and running and the Chamber, Franklin County Farm Bureau Association, AT&T and American Legion Post 60 sponsored the first legislative coffee last Saturday. Certainly different than any we’ve hosted previously – only the Legislators, Moderators and IT people were allowed in the room (pictures here). We asked for questions to be submitted in advance and received 16 questions from inquiring citizens. One definite benefit of creating a Facebook live event is it can be watched anytime at your convenience. If you have not viewed the Coffee and would like to, here is the link for you to see the entire question/answer session. It might be more important now than ever we create dialogue with our local elected officials…so we better understand each other and the idiosyncrasies of legislation and how it affects our state and lives. The next scheduled dates are February 27, March 27 and April 17…all Saturday mornings at 10:00 a.m. Watch our newsletters and webpage for links to join the event (usually it is originally shown live on the City of Ottawa’s Facebook page and then following posted on the Chamber’s Facebook page).
 
Oncology Services at AdventHealth Ottawa:
 
This is huge for the Ottawa community…we now have full Oncology Services at AdventHealth Ottawa. Currently we have full medical oncology and hematology care with MD Anderson certified providers located in our main facility (picture here). Beginning in February, the Medical Arts Building will be completely renovated, and full radiology oncology care will resume there. Having cancer is always a challenge for any family…needing to drive to the Metropolitan area only makes this challenging time tougher. Here is a flier with the doctors and services available locally at our hospital. 
 
Ottawa Recreation Commission: 
 
Congratulations to Levi Meyer and his staff…the Ottawa Recreation Commission (ORC) was recently honored for the second straight year with the Better Sports for Kids Quality Program Provider designation by the National Alliance for Youth Sports. Earning the Better Sports for Kids Quality Program designation demonstrates that the ORC has taken steps to ensure a safe, quality playing environment for children. This requires proving it meets key requirements in five categories:
 
  • Written Policies and Procedures
  • Volunteer Screening
  • Coach Training
  • Parent Education
  • Accountability of staff 
 
The ORC is only the 3rd agency in the state of Kansas, and the 101st in the world, to earn this distinction! FANTASTIC JOB!! The purpose of Ottawa Rec. is to improve and maintain the mental and physical health, happiness, and well-being of the citizens in and around the Ottawa school district…they accomplish this through a well-planned program of organized, constructive leisure activities. Thanks ORC for all your commitment and great work…and also making us a healthier community!!
 
He is HERE!:
 
At 7:30 this morning, Patton John Flory (picture here) weighed in at 9 pounds – 2 ounces and 21.5 inches long. To quote his dad, “Mom and baby are doing great…he has blue eyes and blonde/red hair and perfect!!” Cherry and I can’t wait to get our hands on him…not sure when that will be with all the COVID stuff going on. He was born here in Ottawa at AdventHealth delivered by Dr. Ransom who delivered all our children. Patton makes our ninth grandbaby…we feel very blessed.
 
It’s always good to get through January…once we make it to February it feels like spring is just around the corner. A few sunny days have made this January not feel quite as glum…hope you are working at keeping yourself happy and healthy.
 
Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John 
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000