Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
Good Friday afternoon to you!! Yesterday was Maundy Thursday…the day Jesus celebrated the Passover Seder with his disciples before being arrested and spending most of the night in mock trials by the Sanhedrin and Pilot’s court. Maundy is Latin meaning “mandatum” or “command” …referring to the commands Jesus gave his disciples. After a night of “kangaroo court” Jesus was crucified the next day – Good Friday…the day Jesus died for the sins of everyone…because of a guilty verdict from false charges.
 
I’ll wish you Happy Easter just a little early. Of course Jesus rose from the dead on Easter…which we will honor and celebrate this Sunday. I’ve never known of a time or a people more in need of an Easter than we are right now. As a community, we need to shake the shackles of this pandemic and rise to a more normal time…to actually feel like we are living again. I sense it’s coming too…a good year for all of us to celebrate Easter and the blessings we’ve enjoyed – even while living through an unbelievable, crazy year!
 
COVID Update:
 
Kansas is no longer officially under a wear-a-mask mandate anymore…the governor extended the mandate, but the legislature overruled her within hours. Our County Commissioners can reimpose the mandate but haven’t yet…this only happened yesterday. The CDC and our own Dr. Ransom still highly recommend the wearing of masks…and some places of business are still requiring them too – their prerogative.
 
Locally we are up 3 active cases for a total of 9 compared to last week’s 6…here is this week’s report. It’s really more exciting these days to look at the vaccination rates…here is the Franklin County report card on this front!! To date Franklin County has received 8500 doses with 3,550 having been injected as second doses and 4,750 being administered to first-time recipients. If you just do the “cowboy math” (nothing official) which comes to about 30% of the county being vaccinated. The CDC reported this week that even those with only one dose have 85% immunity…which increases to 95% with the second dose.  Also remember…these numbers come only from the Franklin County Health Department. Some are getting their vaccination at the hospital and pharmacies which are not included in the numbers above…and I heard this week that doctor’s offices will begin to receive the vaccine too! Our numbers are far better than they look…and this is exciting!! Get back to normal…get vaccinated (call 785.229.3531 for an appointment).   
 
Teacher of the Year:
 
The Kansas State Department of Education this week recognized the District 2 nominees for Teacher of the Year…two were from Ottawa. Megan O’Neill for primary – a 4th-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary; and Lori Hower for secondary – a New Technology Coach at Ottawa High School (picture here). Dr. Cobbs said, “These two teachers exemplify everything that USD 290 stands for and are incredible representatives of our district.” But…as they say, it doesn’t stop here!  Megan was chosen by the selection committee to be a finalist for the Kansas Teacher of the Year…she is now one of six Kansas teachers competing for the honor!! Congratulations Megan…both Lori and Megan are shining examples of the great teachers we have locally who are preparing our students for a life of success. The Kansas Teacher of the Year will be named September 25 in Wichita. Fingers crossed Megan…we are all rooting for you!!
 
FCDC New Webpage:
 
Paul Bean, director of Franklin County Development Council launched a new webpage this week…you can check it out here…also, here is the link for the Proximity Park page.  And…Paul has a new email as well – [email protected]. Paul is doing good work introducing our community to new industries and searching for the right fit for a new business partner in Proximity Park. He will tell you we have a lot of “tire kickers” right now…we just need one of them to make the deal. He is also working hard with local industry and schools on workforce development. Our community raises up enough kids to adults through great school systems…we need to keep as many local as we can to fill the jobs available. If you are thinking of changing jobs or looking for something different, give Paul a call – he will get you connected. 
 
Rental Assistance:
 
Earlier this month, the Kansas Resources Housing Corporation, launched the Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance (KERA) program…a very large effort to help tenants who are in trouble because of COVID. Funded by the federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, KERA provides rent, utility, and internet assistance to Kansas renters financially impacted by the COVID pandemic. You can read about the full program and how to apply here…needless to say this is very beneficial to both tenants and landlords. To qualify both landlord and tenant need to apply…but the benefit of course is the rent gets paid, so the renter and the property owner are both compensated. If you or someone you know can benefit from this be sure to check this out.    
 
Flea, Junk & Trunk:
 
Scheduled to be in downtown Ottawa on May 15, we are having a great response from vendors for this event. We are still 45-days away and have over 50 vendors already committed to come with unbelievable assortment of wares…and also some food trucks. We are planning the event for Legacy Square, but if it keeps growing, we will need to spill over into the downtown. The Ottawa Main Street Association is organizing our downtown merchants for sidewalk and outdoor sales too.  Should be a big day…mark your calendars now! I’m anxious to start seeing people again in the downtown…shopping, visiting and having fun!!
 
Warm Weekend and Week Ahead:
 
Sounds as if the weather is turning to summer in the week ahead…after getting a hard frost just this week. Cherry and I are going to plant garden and mow the lawn this weekend…so it begins – mowing and hoeing every week. I greatly enjoy it when it starts in the spring…but ready to stop in the fall. We are also having a cookout with family Saturday evening to celebrate Easter and beautiful weather.
 
We went to a cold spring kids’ soccer game this week…here are a few pictures of the stars.  
 
I hope you have felt blessed during Holy Week…take stock in “Christ is Risen…He has Risen indeed!!”
 
Onward ~ John 
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000