Dear Chamber Supporters:
The alley by Legacy Square is open to traffic today…opening officially sometime late afternoon yesterday (here are pictures). Chamber members gathered this morning at Mug Shot for coffee to network and to view the progress on Legacy Square.
Earlier this week in our construction meeting with Loyd Builders, Josh Walker reviewed with Wynndee and me the construction timeline. The work on the bathroom and showers is ahead of schedule…this week the roof was weather sealed allowing for mechanical work to begin inside (pictures here). Roof installation is still a couple weeks away. The pavilion and work in general is running slightly behind because of lost time for wet weather. Josh feels confident when we get into summer his crews can make up most of the time. The steel framework for the large pavilion is complete and work on the column wraps will begin soon.
The milling and overlay of the alley began last Friday…it went smoothly – wrapping up Monday afternoon with the parking spaces being stripped Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday City crews were putting the final touches on the sewer and water connections and intentions were to have the alley open Wednesday afternoon. At noon on Wednesday I visited with the site project manager, Sam Walker and he was already in the process of moving the fence back so traffic could access the alley when utility work wrapped up later in the day. Just as workers were ready to make the utility connections, dry fill from under 1st Street started pouring into their hole (picture here). At some previous point in history (probably when the rail bed was removed) instead of flowable fill (think dry concrete which hardens naturally over time) dry flowable fill (rock) was placed under the street in the roadbed. When given the chance to escape it started pouring out. Crews had to dig out enough to shore up their hole in order for crews to safely access the utility lines…this time the area around the sewer access was firmed up with flowable fill. Long story short…it added a full day to the process but the alley is once again open. There is more utility work to complete under 1st Street but traffic delays should be minimal with workers plating across the road cut to allow cars to continue to use the street. Please drive slowly and carefully when using 1st Street to allow workers to safely complete their work.
Every year during Business Appreciation Month, the governor awards the Governor’s Award of Excellence, the top award presented to a business in the State of Kansas…this year Ottawa’s own Scott Schultz was presented with this prestigious honor for his company, Morning Star Care Homes (pictures here). Scott has 5 care-homes in 4 communities: Ottawa, Baldwin City, Fredonia and Neodesha…their special calling is caring for individuals (and families) suffering from long-term memory loss. In the last 3 years Scott has invested $3.7 million in expanding and improving his care facilities – most recently expanding to Fredonia and Neodesha and building a new home in rural Baldwin City.
Scott treats his employs well…supporting them with additional training and the opportunities to advance. His company was cited for their work and involvement they provide to all the communities in which they have a presence. We certainly see it in Ottawa with Scott currently serving on the Franklin County Development Council board and he and his employees’ involvement in Chamber work. Scott bought 3 tables at the BAM Banquet to allow any of his employees the opportunity to travel to Manhattan to witness the ceremony. No one knew who the winner was ahead of time…there were 4 very capable businesses considered in the final selection. Blaine Finch, Blake Jorgensen, Roger Maxwell, Cherry and I (pictures here) all drove to Manhattan Tuesday evening to support Morning Star Care Homes…glad we did – it was a fun time seeing a local business being named top business in the State of Kansas!! Looking at previous honorees, the business winners are very prominent and esteemed companies…large and small. Way to go Scott!!
The Kansas Department of Commerce mobile workforce development bus was in Ottawa Thursday and parked in front of the Chamber (pictures here). Kansas is divided into districts of which Franklin County is in District 2…the name of our district is Heartland Works. Many will remember once upon a time communities had unemployment offices…now we have workforce centers. The District 2 is served by centers in Lawrence, Topeka and Manhattan. Recognizing that individuals who are unemployed sometimes don’t have transportation either, the District 2 Board purchased a mobile unit which travels to communities in our district without a workforce center. I’m honored to currently be the Chair of the District 2 Board. KanWorks works with individuals who are unemployed or under-employed to advance their training and work skills to allow them to become more employable. In addition they work with Kansas companies to learn what specific skills are needed and how they can provide a more work-ready labor force. The bus will be back in Ottawa August 8, October 3 and December 5…each day from 9:30-12:00. If you know someone who could use these services or a company needing additional workers give me a call…I will make sure you are put in touch with the correct people at Heartland Works.
The Ottawa Area Young Professionals (picture here) spent Thursday evening in Spring Hill networking with other YPs and Chamber members from the Spring Hill, Gardner-Edgerton, Paola, Osawatomie and Louisburg Chambers. Every year the Miami County Chambers host an evening at the Hillsdale Lake Marina…this year the Marina is under water (go figure). It was challenging for the organizers to decide whether to cancel, move to the fall or change locations…in the end they moved the networking event to KC Watersports in Spring Hill. Our YPs report having a good time and also seeing a few others from Ottawa there. After the gathering broke up our YPs went for dinner at the Bull Creek Distillery for a planning meeting…sounds like a fun planning meeting to me. If you or anyone in your organization would like to be more involved in YPs contact Laura Snider or call the office (785.242.1000)…it’s an amazing group and a fantastic way to build your professional network – and they do fun stuff in addition to their community service and professional development.
It’s official…we have a new Chief of Police at the Ottawa Police Department – Adam Weingartner. Former Chief, Dennis Butler resigned last November to take a similar position in Manhattan…Adam has been serving as the interim since then. Wednesday evening he was officially sworn in as Chief at the City of Ottawa Commission meeting (pictures here). Adam is a graduate of the National FBI Academy and the Kansas Police Administrators Seminars and possesses a great public relations skillset. He is committed to community outreach and making sure his entire department is involved with local citizens and organizations. It is always best (especially in the case of a young people) their first encounter with an officer is at D.A.R.E. Camp or a school activity…we all need to see our local protectors as citizens working to make Ottawa better. Our local police force is currently in the middle of re-accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA). The accreditation program requires agencies to comply with state-of-the-art standards in four basic areas: policy and procedures, administration, operations, and support services. I’m looking forward to Adam’s leadership and service tenure to our community…Congratulations Adam!!
We had a good First Friday Forum this morning…about 30 in attendance (pictures here). Adam Weingartner, in his first official capacity as Chief, served as moderator from the City joining me and Jeff Gulley from the Ottawa Herald. In addition to the Chamber and aforementioned supporters, other sponsors of FFF are Kansas State Bank, KOFO Radio, Neosho County Community College and the Franklin County Health Department. Every month we do a community update from City Departments, the school district and hear from all our sponsors. It is kind of an “around town” information update. After the first 30 minutes we have a speaker enlighten us with interesting and new information. Today our speaker was Dr. Levi Russell, Professor of Economics at Ottawa University…Dr. Russell writes a monthly economics column for the Ottawa Herald regarding our local economy with insights on how we are affected locally by global and national markets and political policy.
Levi talked today with the crowd about tariffs with China and their cause and effects. He told attenders that here in Ottawa, the U.S. tariffs will likely have a bigger impact than the Chinese tariffs. Like the rest of the country, we will likely see a rise in the prices of many consumer goods. Some of the manufacturing and construction businesses in Ottawa will likely see an increase in their costs, especially if they buy raw materials or intermediate products directly from China. They will either have to pay higher prices for these inputs or find other sources either in the U.S. or another country.
He admitted that even though he is an economist, he could not say all of this is bad. The expected reductions in employment and GDP in the U.S. are mild, though they will likely be felt to a greater degree in specific areas of the country. These economic costs might be worth it if they result in policy changes that are favorable to U.S. interests. In the end the tariff battles may impact the economy in the short run, but winning the war is the goal. It’s up to us and our elected officials to determine whether the economic costs are worth the strategic and security-related benefits.
Time for me to go…here are a few pictures of my Shawnee grandkids…we took them to lunch after church last Sunday. Cherry has been in Manhattan all this week at the National Festival of Breads…so I’ve been batching this week – tomorrow I’m babysitting Jase and Evie while their parents attend a wedding in Wichita.
Talk to you next week…
Onward ~ John
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce