Dear Chamber Supporters:
As I write this, it is early Friday morning, I’m sitting on the deck of our beach house (rented for the week) – overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. For the moment, I’m the only one up and the morning is beautiful and quiet…save for the steady lap of the ocean waves hitting the beach. We’ve enjoyed some absolutely amazing sunsets…and early in the morning this week, I also felt great joy and delight in the full moon setting into the sea (couple pictures here). Something about rhythm is very relaxing!! 
This week, Cherry and I traveled with our daughter Whitney, husband Joe and 3 granddaughters, Anna, Lucy and Heidi, to the Island of Anna Marie on the southern tip of Florida (Gulf side). We have had no particular agenda…but we have watched dolphins play, took a boat ride, explored an abandoned fort on the Island of Egmont and enjoyed several great seafood meals…plus relaxing on the beach! All and all it has been a great week to recharge! I’ll have more pictures for you next week, but here are just a few
Sherri and Ryland will share the Ottawa news this week…I can’t wait to read their offerings. I know both have significant life events occurring about which I expect they will share. Looking forward to getting back next week, revived and refreshed…ready to go!!
Flea, Junk & Trunk – May 15, 2021:
I’m happy to share we’ve had a great response to our annual Flea, Junk & Trunk event that is scheduled for Saturday, May 15th from 9am – 3pm. Currently we have 38 different vendors that will be participating along with several different food/sno cone/kettle corn vendor/trucks. The event is being held at Legacy Square (and West 2nd Street if necessary). (Click here to register)
We are excited that the Main Street Organization is working with us and has coordinated their annual Side-Walk Sale for this same day. If you’re interested in participating in the Side-Walk Sale, email [email protected] We’ve encouraged downtown businesses and restaurants to run specials/offer discounts to encourage shopping local.
We’re looking forward to a sunny and beautiful day! We hope you will join us in downtown Ottawa and Legacy Square on May 15th. Email me at [email protected] for additional information.
Berklee Rae Dankenbring:
1 week ago today, on April 23rd at 8:54 a.m. our youngest daughter Jessica (and Chris) blessed my husband Dan and I with our 2nd grandchild. Berklee Rae Dankenbring weighed 4 lb. 14 oz and was 18 inches long. Berklee (and momma) are doing great and got to come home from the hospital last Sunday. Berklee got her name because her parents both love to fish and Berkley is a Fishing Tackle Company. However, Lee is Dan’s middle name, so therefore they spell her 1st name as Berklee and Rae is my middle name (Pictures here).
The Lord blessed us with our first grandchild Ethan Harris Smith who will turn 14 years old on July 13th. Ethan along with his parents (our oldest daughter Amber and Josh) made their way to Kansas from North Carolina this week (Pictures here). We are looking forward to a fun weekend with both of our kids’ families and grandchildren. If you’re a grandparent, you know the love & joy that fills your heart! There’s nothing more important than family.
My cousin wrote this beautiful poem for Ethan and Berklee. If you know me very well, you know how emotional I can be. So, you might want to grab a tissue. Enjoy! (Poem – Click Here)
Graduate Program:
I want to start my column with a report on my life in academia as I am rapidly approaching the completion of my Master in Bussiness Administration degree at Ottawa University (OU). Almost two years ago I had the privilege of walking across the stage with my undergraduate degree and in just one day (tomorrow) I will be doing it again for my MBA. I have admittedly been counting down the weeks for several months now, more so to be done dealing with homework on a daily basis than my experience with classmates and engaging faculty/staff, as I have been lucky enough to meet some life-long friends and mentors.
If you were unaware, my position at the Chamber was made possible through a partnership called a Graduate Assistant (GA) position. Many students work with athletic teams while there are several admin GA positions as well on campus. I may be biased but I do believe I have been blessed with the best GA position at OU. The opportunity to work with two amazing colleagues and meet so many wonderful community members is something I cherish. Thank you to all of you who have made these past two years so special, looking forward to making an abundance of more memories down the road!
Legacy Square:
One thing before I leave this topic, I want to briefly mention my final project for the MBA program. Our class was tasked with choosing an organization (preferably local) and coming up with an effective strategy to propose and then defend to the class. My group decided to go with the Ottawa Chamber (I might have had a say in that decision). Our strategy focused on Legacy Square and its utilization moving forward. With only ten minutes to discuss we were not able to delve too deep into specifics but give broad ideas and plans. Regardless, I am pleased to say the class unanimously voted that our proposal was sound and accepted. I believe this community has a major asset in Legacy Square and I am excited to see exponential growth as we move out of this pandemic. If you are wondering how you can get involved or how to book or how to support Legacy Square, I would love to have a conversation with you!
I also want to show off Legacy Square’s sign currently in the southwest corner (pictured here). Big shout out to Fashion Inc./Universal Sign for helping us get this set! I also believe it is necessary to shout out one of your Chamber Board members, Anna Bricker. She and nineteen other American Eagle associates participated in an Earth Day Volunteer Event, one of their projects was cleaning up the landscaping at Legacy Square. You can view pictures of the aesthetic landscaping beds after their cleanup here. Something very special about Ottawa is being able to see local industry give back to the community, these are perfect examples.
Office Furniture:
I’ll finish our letter with a quick blurb about one of my current endeavors. A buddy of mine and I have taken on moving office furniture as a way to stay busy in an already busy time of our lives. We currently have three desks available, two being identical (pictures here) and one other that is smaller in dimensions (pictures here). Along with these desks we have filing cabinets of all shapes and sizes and some office chairs. If you or your organization are interested in any of this furniture don’t hesitate to reach out to me, [email protected]. We are able to help move and set up if needed and would love to find this furniture a new home!
Onward ~ John & Sherri & Ryland                                                      
John Coen
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce