Dear Chamber Supporters:
Is anyone getting tired of “used” sports, movies and Coronavirus news?!? It seems our routines are relegated in new fashion to television or computer screens. I can’t wait to greet people in normal fashion, shake hands and not feel like I’m standing far away while having normal conversations. Still…we must stay vigilant, keep up the good fight and see this through to the end. None of us has experienced anything similar to this on our own home soil of the United States. While frustrated, I believe we are learning humility as a society and how to reconnect as families on new levels. Stay strong Ottawa…this too shall pass!
2020 Census:
All deadlines are being changed…our taxes are not due until July 15 and now the decennial census has been extended. Under the new plan, the Census Bureau is extending the window for field data collection and self-response to October 31, 2020… this allows for apportionment counts to be delivered to the President by April 30, 2021 and redistricting data to be delivered to the states no later than July 31, 2021. I understand why the field offices must be temporarily suspended, but I still strongly encourage you to complete the self-response…here is information on self-responding if you haven’t yet done so.
Kansas is ninth in the nation in self-response at 54.2%…Franklin County, while better than the state average at 57.5%, is not in the top 10 of self-reporting Kansas counties. If you like data, you can tool around on this map for a while to see top (or bottom) reporting communities. You can boil it down to your town or your precinct if you are inclined…this page will allow you to check rankings by state, county, and city. When we look at this stuff we know we are looking for things to do!!
Hope House:
Here is an all-call for Hope House…most in our community know Hope House is a non-profit Christian emergency relief organization which works closely with local churches, county and city agencies to provide physical and spiritual assistance to individuals and families…all this through Christ-centered giving and caring. Assistance for the basic necessities is provided through the food pantry and the help of community volunteers as well as other miscellaneous needs. 
This week Hope House sent emails acknowledging the increased use of the local resource by one third each week…this has caused their inability to restock goods at a rate fast enough to meet the growing needs of Franklin County families during this pandemic crisis. Here are some of the greatest needs:
  • Food – margarine, vegetables, pastas, spaghetti sauce, cereal, pancake mixes, boxed milk, saltine crackers, bread, jelly and ramen noodles.
  • Non-food – bar soap, shampoo, toothpaste, dish soap, powdered laundry soap and toilet paper.
  • Supplies – empty Rx containers, empty margarine containers, 8-10 oz plastic empty pop containers (these items are used to split up products such as shampoo and laundry soap into smaller containers to make the donation go further).
Here is a way all who are able can help…donations are needed. Please consider what you can do…you can donate by calling this number: 785.242.4444
“Scary” Room:
Just to illustrate how bored everyone is getting: we have a storeroom at the Chamber which we lovingly refer to as the “Scary Room”…and for all the reasons you can imagine. No one wants to go in there – it’s dirty, packed and unorganized and mostly is old musty records and outdated office equipment. Well…Ryland decided he would take it on during this pandemic (pictures here). I will admit he did a great job!! We had to have recycling come twice for all the “recyclables”…and now we are challenged to rename the space. Just to give an example of how ancient things were in there he found my old application to the Leadership Franklin County program from 1985!! In the application I said (and this is a quote):
“Franklin County can be proud of its heritage and has a bright and promising future. When I think of the changes that have transpired in my lifetime, it’s exciting to think what the future holds. Franklin County will continue to be a flourishing community with good school systems and activities for its citizens. Most importantly Franklin County will always be a good place to raise a family earn a living and call your home.”
I wrote this in 1985 when I was 28 years old…long before I worked for the Chamber. It’s kind of prophetic isn’t it? Remember this was 15 years before the internet, cell phones, email and desktop computers…and I already thought I had seen a lot “transpire in my lifetime!!” 
Here are some Easter morning pictures of our family…all in our own separate locations!
Easter was different this year…I’m sure for your family too. Together, we didn’t need a building or new clothes or even to sit next to one another in order to connect spiritually in Christ as one body. The Church has always been more than a building…buildings are only temporary gathering places we use at points in time. The Church is us and is forever…and much more than bricks and mortar…it is all of us. Sacred space isn’t a geographic location, but the work God is creating within His people. In all the tragedy of this pandemic we are seeing this in hundreds of ways as people seek to stay connected and help one another in ways never before imagined.  
Stay healthy and safe…talk to you next week.         
Onward ~ John
John Coen
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce