Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
Another wet chilly week…mostly after having a taste of springtime and warm weather we are wanting it here full time. We know it’s coming…now just patience. My early planted garden is doing well…I’m anxious to get more stuff planted. 
 
Legislative Coffee:
 
Last Saturday was our second Legislative Coffee for the year (pictures here)…Senator Caryn Tyson and Speaker Pro Tem Blaine Finch answered questions which the Legislative Action committee received by email prior to the event. If you didn’t watch the question/answer session live last Saturday morning, you can still see the event here. We held the legislative update session in the Memorial Auditorium for the first time…our next coffee is April 17 – we think we will be able to host citizens back to watch the event live in the auditorium because we can create the proper amount of social distancing required. 
 
Mostly on people’s minds were healthcare issues, taxes, education and several questions about specific legislation…such as the transgender bill or the issue of teaching gun safety in schools. There were also a few questions regarding COVID, masks, vaccinations and whatnot. The questions to legislators lasted 75 minutes and were well-rounded in the sense of covering many topics. If you have a question for the next Legislative Coffee, email it and we will get an answer to your query. 
 
COVID Update:
 
I’m not going to ignore this topic for several more weeks, but there is getting less and less to tell here. In Franklin County we are down 11 cases from a week ago, to only 6 active cases…and no positive tests this week. Neither has there been any hospitalizations. Here is the report from March 24. Vaccinations are moving at a good clip now too. To date, Franklin County has received 7,800 doses of total vaccine…7,600 of the Moderna (which requires 2 shots – 4,450 first shots given and 3,150 of second doses administered) and 200 doses of the single-dose of Johnson & Johnson. The County continues to receive more doses each week, but it continues to remain a guessing game as to how much is coming and what day…somehow the State seems a little unorganized on this effort, but nationally our state is showing well. The entire State is currently in phases 2, 3 & 4 of the vaccination protocol. Of all Kansans, 35.1% have received at least one vaccination…and today, Governor Kelly announced beginning next Monday, March 29 the entire state will move into Phase 5…which is anyone 16-years and older (full release here). In the release she said limited supply from the federal government has constrained vaccination speed-to-date…now supplies have been increased and the eligibility will be opened to all Kansans to get doses.
 
Last thing on COVID this week. Here is a good stat sheet regarding the side effects of the vaccination. I had no bad effects from either my first or second shot…but some do experience mild symptoms. Still…the minor after-symptoms are still far better than getting the disease!!
 
RESEA – Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment:   
 
This is a new program Governor Kelly announced and launched this week in an effort to connect unemployed Kansans with the resources needed to secure a high-quality job. The new program is a collaboration between Kansas’ Departments of Commerce and Labor…hope is to get early intervention with job search assistance and career counseling to unemployment claimants. Here is the complete release…the phone number of the State Agency to take advantage of this opportunity is 785.234.0500.  We can also help in at the Chamber to get you connected with the right resources to engage in this new program or at least learn more…let us know if you or someone you know needs assistance.
 
AdventHealth Ottawa:  
 
Here’s a bit of good news…for at least the third time, our local hospital was named in the top 100 small rural hospitals in the nation (picture here). AHO was one of only 4 hospitals in Kansas to make the list…Mercy Hospital in Moundridge, Newton Medical Center, Pratt Regional Medical Center…and US!! Here is the complete list of the top 100. The Chartis Group, a leading healthcare advisory and analytics firm, ranked hospitals nationwide and made this statement, “Amidst uncertainty, transition and strain, these top performers are excelling in managing risk, achieving higher quality, securing better outcomes, increasing patient satisfaction, and operating at a lower cost than their peers.” Locally we’ve always known we have a great hospital in Ottawa…it’s always nice to get outside confirmation from a completely unbiased and independent source which is recognized by the healthcare industry as the gold standard in analytics and consulting. 
 
Legacy Square: 
 
It’s exciting we are once again beginning to see events planned for summer and fall. On August 17, we have scheduled a Travis Marvin Concert; on September 25 there is a new event being planned, the Bad Astra Dirt Road Bicycle Race…more details coming regarding both of these events. The ORC, Ottawa Main Street Assn., Library, Auditorium and Chamber have all been working together to plan family movie nights again this summer. ORC announced on June 5 they are having a (new event), Summerfest which sounds fun…again – more details coming as planning proceeds. I think some of the best news this week was the Ol’ Maris River Run announced they are once again hosting their annual car show again on September 18 & 19. We are all ready to once again join in and as a community to enjoy not only the outdoors…but some of our annual festivals and traditions which make this such a great community. We will continue to keep you posted about these and other events as they get closer…in the meantime – get your vaccination so we are all safe to be gathered at these events once again (785.229.3531)!!
 
Grandkids:
 
We had another birthday party this week…this time Anna Lynn turned 6-years old (pictures here)…and also this week, Patton John made his first appearance at the Chamber office (picture here). 
 
Have a great weekend and hopefully drier weather ahead…enough rain for the moment! Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John 
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000