Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
It has been another slow week of community activity again this week…but then, it has been the coldest week for the last 30-years!! A fair amount of snow too…which came over several days. It was good on Wednesday to finally see the sunshine, albeit a very cold sunny day. With the phones have been quiet and not many walking in, it gave us time in the office to catch-up on several of those projects which keep getting pushed back!
 
We finally finished and sent to the publisher a new directory to be printed…I think it looks good – I’m anxious for you all to receive a copy. We have also been able to get all the “i’s” dotted and “t’s) crossed from our annual meeting the last week of January. It was a very successful event…we hope you found some joy with it too. Many community members who are not associated with the Chamber jumped in and bid on auction items (helping our overall outcome)…most said to tell them when we do this next year – that it was fun to participate.
 
Ireland in the Fall:
 
Sherri has been working feverishly preparing for actually 2 trips which are both traveling in the Fall of 2021. The first is France in September…this is a holdover from last year. In 2020 we were just beginning to market a trip to France in the fall…then the whole world shut down – literally. The travel dates of the trip have been moved several times, but we finally have a week in September we are working towards and about 10 travelers who have remained duty-bound to go to France when travel becomes available again. Some of this group dropped out but about 10 remains…you can still get in on this excursion by emailing Sherri or calling at 785.242.1000.
 
The larger travel option (and by larger I mean by the number of travelers participating) is Ireland on the days of November 1-9 (here is a complete brochure)…additionally for your convenience here is the registration form. If you sign up and pay your down-deposit payment before May 21, you can save $100.00 per traveler. Many are signing up with their friends for a fantastic voyage. Click or call Sherri at the link and number above for more information…it can’t hurt to hear about the adventure. Also…on Tuesday, March 2 (a short 2-weeks away) there will be a virtual information meeting (click here) about all the intended destinations and expected sites the Ireland travelers will visit. The on-line meeting will be at 5:30 pm.  
 
Governor Kelly in Town:
 
This is by far the most exciting thing in Ottawa this week, in what generally was a very slow week…Governor Laura Kelly came to Ottawa on Thursday and she brought with her Julie Lorenz, Secretary of Transportation and Brad Loveless, Secretary of the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Department (pictures here). From the stage at Ottawa Memorial Auditorium, the Governor announced her new transportation package…a plan which always involves roads and highways, but also includes dollars for trail and sidewalk development. This new plan spends $16.8 million and directly benefits 18 Kansas communities. The caveat for Ottawa…the Flint Hills trail going west from Ottawa, because of the need to circumvent the BNSF Railroad, currently has a 2-mile detour onto rocky (dusty) county roads. This new transportation plan allows funding to build a graded overpass over the railroad to allow bikers to safely remain on the abandoned railbed and proceed west without leaving the trail. This is a huge safety upgrade…and will undoubtedly attract more bicyclists to our trails once this inconvenience is eliminated. Design and engineering have already begun…WOW. I did not see that coming. What’s the old saying, “luck favors the prepared”…couldn’t be truer here. We have spent on Ottawa’s alternative transportation modalities and now the State is noticing and jumping in too. Can’t wait for it to be complete. 
 
COVID Update:
 
COVID Cases continue to tick down…from 60 active cases a week ago to 52 active cases this week. Sadly there has been an additional death bringing the death toll locally to 20. The positivity testing is also trending down…down from 26% positivity in December to 7.66% the last 2-weeks. Locally the vaccination rollout has been safe and efficient…we just need to get more vaccines. Last weekend the county received 500-doses…the biggest one-time shipment received yet. Keep in perspective however, in order to assure enough serum for the second shot, only 250 doses go into individuals as the first shot…all 500 were used, but 250 were for people needing their second shot. It’s a process…not necessarily fast but we are forging forward. Governor Kelly announced her plan this week, a plan to get more teachers vaccinated. Kelly said enacting her plan at this time was made possible by the higher rate of vaccines entering the state. She said the number of doses of serum received per week has gone from 45,000 a few weeks ago to 90,000 last week. Based on conversations with the Biden Administration, she anticipates as many as 115,000 to arrive per week in the near future. This is all positive…we need to stay positive. We’ve come this far – the end of this thing is coming!!
 
Legislative Coffee: 
 
We had great participation at our first Legislative Coffee in January…all 3 legislators participated and 16 questions were submitted prior to the event. I’m giving you about 8-days of a lead before the next question/answer session with our elected leaders. Saturday, February 27 at 10:00 a.m. will be our next Coffee…again this session will be virtual only. You can watch it on Facebook Live and then the recording will be available on the Chamber’s webpage and the City’s webpage. We are changing our venue to Ottawa Memorial Auditorium…hopefully in March can allow people wearing masks and socially distancing to attend the event in person…I’ll keep you posted on how this pans out. Each month we are getting closer.
 
For now please email your questions here…our moderators, Ryan Henningsen, Jacob Maichel and Lynda Alderman will direct the questions you send to the legislators for their response.
 
Looks like going forward we have some warmer weather…if this last stretch we are just coming out from under, is the worst of winter this year, we will survive!! I’m suspicious we haven’t seen the last of 2021 cold snaps and snow!
 
Here are pictures of those who did not mind school being out or the cold and snow…also a couple of pictures of our newest baby – 3-weeks old today.
 
Continue to stay safe and warm…I am already looking for signs of spring!!  Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John 
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000