Hello and Welcome to the new addition of Connect with John! This week Sydney and Ryland have taken over and made some great changes and additions to the weekly note! Enjoy!
Dear Chamber Supporter: – John
Greetings from Athens, Greece…actually Kinetta which is 60 miles south of Athens located on the Aegean Sea. I’m happy to report we all made it safely and are having a wonderful time…temps here in the upper 70s each day. It did rain one afternoon but other than one rainstorm really beautiful weather. Here are a few pictures from our hotel looking out…different to wake up to than the plains of Kansas. Here is a picture of Mayor Jorgensen from Greece.
I’m here to report everything here is either uphill or downhill…we all had more than our necessary steps for the week by Wednesday. Here are a few pictures of the hills we climbed…to the top of the Acropolis of Athens and the Mycenae Acropolis. Acropolis means hill or high spot and they always choose the high ground to build their cities and temples.
The Ottawa group is having a fabulous time site seeing, eating Greek cuisine and socializing. Either wine or ouzo are at the center of most of our evening conversations…don’t know that we’ll become ouzo fans, but when in Greece…as they say…do as the Greeks! There is so much history here…most of the ancient ruins are from 4-3 B.C. It is awesome to experience and think about what it took for a society back then to build these monuments which have stood through time.
I’ll have a little more at the end…I’m going to let Ryland and Sydney fill you in on what’s going on in the Chamber this week. I’m looking forward to their epistle and update.
Speech and Debate – Sydney
Over the last weekend, I spent some time in New England with the Ottawa University Forensics Team (Forensics like speech and debate, not like forensics for dead bodies). We flew into New Hampshire on Friday evening after some exciting plane changes and delays!
On Saturday, we competed at Saint Anselm College in their speech portion of the tournament. My two teammates and I really cleaned house at the small tournament! We won the second-place sweepstakes award, getting second place as a team overall. Individually, I got first place in Dramatic Interpretation, second place in Program of Interpretation and third place in Impromptu Speaking. These combined three scores led me to win the Triathlon Award. Here are some pictures of my teammates and me with our awards!
After all the success on Saturday, we spent Sunday and Monday enjoying New England. I had never had the opportunity to explore the East Coast and so being able to see New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island and Massachusetts was amazing! We visited Kennebunkport, which is where the Bush’s vacation, here are some pictures of that section of the trip! We also went to Salem, Massachusetts and explore the Cliff Walk along the coast, pictures here! Monday night, we flew back to Kansas City and made our way home to Ottawa. It was an amazing experience!
KEDA/CCEKS Joint Conference – Ryland
Monday morning I drove to the Capitol to participate in the first annual CCEKS/KEDA Joint Conference. Prior to this year, these two entities had separate conferences for their respective groups… one for Chambers and one for Economic Development. Fortunately for me the conferences were merged which allowed FCDC’s new Director, Paul Bean, to be a familiar face throughout the two days the event took place.
This convention is a great place to network and learn about things going on across Kansas regarding Chamber work and Economic Development. It was interesting to be surrounded by people who have been in this business for so long, working hard to better their particular communities. The workshops that were held gave me some insight into how we might better our Chamber moving forward… I made sure to try and take good notes to bring back to the team! John wanted me to take photos of the event to share with you all, but instead of just showing a picture of sitting in a room looking at the back of people’s heads… I put my drawing skills to the test, you can see the results here. If you need a sketch artist for your child’s next birthday party just give the Chamber a call and ask for Ryland…
Paul’s First Week – Sydney
It was officially Paul Bean’s first week in the office as the FCDC Director! He spent the end of his weekend and the beginning of his first week with Ryland in Topeka for the CCEKS/KEDA Joint Conference.
We asked Paul a couple of questions about his first week here in the office, here is his interview.
  • How has your first week been?
  • “It’s been great!”


  • What are you most excited about regarding the future of FCDC?
  • “The growth of relationships between the county, city and business community in Franklin County


  • What are your goals for the coming year?
  • “I would like to get some businesses in Proximity Park, work with school districts and businesses in workforce development and improve communication with FCDC Members and the community.”


  • Are you mad there isn’t any Coca-Cola in the fridge for you yet?
  • “Yes, I am.”
Chamber Coffee for Hale Agency – Sydney
This morning, we had the coffee for the Hale Agency at the new Ottawa University Braves Hall of Fame. The new press box was finished a few weeks ago and had its grand opening before the Braves’ first home football game.
Dave Hale spoke to the group about his work and how he helps people with their future and their financial security. Here are some pictures of the coffee this morning. Dave told so many stories about the amazing work that he does with people all over the country! Thank you Dave and Nori for your support of the Chamber and a huge thank you to the Hale’s for hosting us at the University!
Pictures of Grand Kids – Ryland
Sydney and I know how much readers appreciate John including weekly pictures of his kids and their families, which usually includes pictures of his precious grandkids. Unfortunately, Sydney and I do not have grandkids of our own… or kids for that matter. What we were able to do was use an online software to predict what our future kids could look like if we were to be married to celebrities… you can view Selena Gomez’s and my baby here… and Channing Tatum and Sydney’s baby here. Aren’t they just lovely?
A Funny Story from Greece: – Sydney
Ernestene had some trouble yesterday in a bathroom… here is the email she sent to Sherri today.
“Well, my reputation is ruined. On the way home from Delphi, we made a stop at a rest area and I got locked in the bathroom. Pictures will tell the story. Of course there were only 2 stalls in the woman’s WC. It took 2 hefty Greek guys to break down the door so I could get out. Suppose the company will have to pay for that door. Sorry, but all I did was close the door.”
Click here for the picture!
More from John in Greece: – John
Our travels continue so I’ll have more stories and pictures next week. Just a few closing thoughts…seeing and learning about other cultures continues to make me realize how much we are one people all under the same sun. We are trying to succeed and to feed our families…struggling the same here or there. One of the big concerns of Europe currently is immigration and the economy…sound familiar. At times during our travels here we are visiting the same places where the Apostle Paul taught and preached…kind of awe-inspiring. I’m not so sure the issues then were any different than today.
I do know travel abroad makes me enjoy living in the United States…looking forward to being home and sharing more stories with all of you.
Talk to you next week…
Onward ~ John
John Coen
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce