Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
I hope you had a blessed Easter…ours was pretty quiet – church in the morning, watched baseball after lunch (and took a nap) and grandkids came in the late afternoon for a wiener roast and making smores. Here are Easter morning pictures of our 9 grandkids…some were happier than others!!
 
Last Friday, the Ottawa Ministerial Alliance held a beautiful Good Friday service at Legacy Square (few pictures here). I’m excited to see how Legacy Square begins to play a larger role in the life of the community. 2020 was not a fair test…but we are scheduling many events there for the summer and fall of 2021. We can tell everyone is anxious to begin living life at a more normal level and pace. We are starting to schedule a few ribbon cuttings and Chamber coffees too…so far most are looking at late May and June – but it’s a start.
 
COVID Update: 
 
Numbers continue to remain low with 6 active cases (last week we had 9) and 1 hospitalization (report here). The total reported number of people to have caught COVID in Franklin County is 2,444…which is roughly 10 percent of our population. I feel certain there were cases that went unreported. Also, there have been 40 total deaths locally. The rollout of the vaccinations has been robust in Franklin County. Our Health Department has received 9,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine and 300 doses of the Johnson & Johnson of which 8,250 have been administered. However, also encouraging is the fact that our local pharmacies, doctor’s offices and hospital are all receiving shipments now and are administering the vaccination too. If you would like to get your vaccination from the Health Department you can click here. Otherwise call your local pharmacist or doctor to schedule your inoculation shot. 
 
Another USD 290 Honor:
 
Last week I reported a 4th-grade teacher at Lincoln School, Megan O’Neill, was chosen as one of the 6 statewide finalists for the Kansas Teacher of the Year award…this week Ottawa High School Principal, Kelly Whittaker, was selected as the Region 1 principal of the year by the Kansas Association of Principals. Congratulations Kelly!! Here is her picture along with her husband, Jim, who is the head track and cross country coach at Ottawa University. This is an amazing honor for Kelly and her leadership…it takes a team and she and her admin team, faculty and staff are all awesome! Kelly was nominated and selected by principals across Kansas for her leadership, school improvement, dedication, professionalism, and service to students. Just another example of what a great education system we have here in Ottawa.
 
Kansas State University (KSU) First Friday e-Call: 
 
Last Friday, Community Planning Director Wynndee Lee and I were honored and privileged to be asked to represent Ottawa on KSU’s monthly e-Call highlighting the State of Kansas Trail System. The Sunflower Foundation presented for the first 30-minutes about the entire trail network in our state and how it’s contributing to the economics of Kansas. She reported for every $1.00 spent on trail development, healthcare costs are reduced by $2.70…I think this stat is amazing. For the second half of the presentation, Wynndee and I reported on the success of trail development in Franklin County. Most participants were astounded at the economic development we’ve experienced locally because of the trails…did you know we now have 14 Air B&Bs in Ottawa! Most report the largest source of their stays are from trail riders…and these bicyclists also spend additional dollars in Ottawa while they are here. Our story of building Legacy Square and the development of our local downtown retail blows most people away. You can watch the complete presentation here…if you want to just see the Ottawa part, fast forward about 30-minutes.  
 
Couple of things from Ottawa University:
 
This past Wednesday, OU Faculty, staff and students held a huge surprise birthday party for OU President, Dr. Reggies Wenyika (pictures here). The grounds maintenance staff cooked hamburgers and everyone enjoyed the warm weather wishing Dr. Reg a happy birthday. Reggies told attenders he actually doesn’t know his age…it is somewhere around 50-51. Having been born in Africa in a poor area, birth records were not kept well or accurately. If I were him, I would go lower…it is one way to stay young!!
 
On Thursday, I went to the opening of the new OU Greenhouse (pictures here). The primary donors, Don & Carolyn Creed, were in attendance. Also big in the fundraising for this new facility was the OU Class of 1969…total project cost $360,000.00. You can see from the pictures there are not many plants in place yet and this event was actually hosted by the art department to display paintings. But it was a good excuse to show off the new facility and a great place to display the art. Dr. Steven Boese, OU Biology professor, explained to me that under the gravel is a rubber membrane of a graded sand layer which creates a sloping reservoir. During sunny days in the winter, water will be circulated through a solar heater and back into the reservoir…the net effect – at night it will help maintain the temperature of the greenhouse and reduce energy usage. Very cutting edge…this is a good teaching tool addition for the OU teaching staff.
 
Hope you have a great weekend…looks like we are right into mowing every week from the start of spring…with all the warm weather and rain. Personally, I find great relaxation and enjoyment just being able to watch baseball again (particularly the Royals)!! Hope you do something relaxing too.
 
Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John 
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000