Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
Summer is almost half gone and we are steaming towards the beginning of school…in less than a month. Time seems to be flying by! And in this week’s bad news, the number of local residents infected with the Delta variant of COVID continues to rise…28 new cases this week. The percent of positive tests in Kansas is also going up…now 7.2 percent – up from less than 2 percent a couple of weeks ago. You can read Franklin County Public Health Officer, Dr. Ransom’s remarks here…he quite bluntly says he and his colleagues are growing tired of this problem – especially in light of the fact the vaccine is readily available and is effective in stopping the spread. You can get a vaccination tonight and tomorrow night at the Franklin County Fair…and talk to a doctor about any concerns or questions you have…full details here
 
Big Thanks to City Workers!:
 
City crews did an awesome job last Wednesday, when authorized, to take the day and clean up Legacy Square’s landscaping. Volunteers have been working at pulling weeds and maintaining the flower beds…but continued rain and mud prevented them from keeping up with the continuous challenge of weeding. Here are a few pictures of the city crews and volunteers who championed getting the public venue in top shape. The pictures give you a good before and after effect…the Chamber bought them all ice cream at Maggie’s for their efforts. Also…we have a new plan going forward to keep the landscaping top shape. Bones Landscaping will help with the process and greatly supplement the work of our tireless volunteers. Weeds are the constant bane of every gardener…thanks to all who have helped in this process and solution. 
 
Hey…something else to let you know about. We have created a new Facebook page for Legacy Square (formerly the Onward Ottawa page)…created for regular news and updates on Legacy Square. Please go give these new social media pages a like/follow…Facebook link here and Instagram link here.
 
Homeless:
 
Any community which grows and progresses is always experiencing new challenges…a growing homeless population is one of these increasing tests facing Ottawa. I say this with the intent of implying it is all our responsibility to figure ways and systems to support and help this growing populace. United Way under the leadership of Leigh Hanson had opened a homeless shelter in partnership with COF Services…the center had to be closed because of COVID…no timeline for when it might be able to re-open. A shelter is not the only issue…there must also be essential services in place to support with food, medical treatment and social services. I’m learning the correct term is not “homeless” but “socially underserved”…which significantly broadens the scope of those needing aid. I wish I had ready solutions to suggest, suffice to say we as a community have an obligation to help and not just shove into the shadows those who some term as undesirable. Not seeing or getting rid of those whom we would prefer not to see or deal with is not solving – it’s only transferring a growing problem in search of solutions. 
 
Farmer’s Market:
 
It was a very pleasant evening at our first downtown Farmer’s Market in Legacy Square this summer…pictures here. Last Monday the temps were in the upper 70s when vendors and shoppers gathered and the market ensued. Sweet corn and tomatoes were in the biggest demand…as a gardener myself, I can attest to the fact both tomatoes and corn are both challenging this summer because of the extended moisture and cool spring we experienced. Additionally, there was music provided by local artists Ann Major and Jim Faelske and a food truck on-site for an evening meal. There is a group committed to getting a regular market established in the downtown at Legacy Square. Our next market will be July 22 and going forward will be referred to as the “Legacy Market” (event page here).  The Legacy Market will be an attempt to establish a new, regular market which will supplement and augment the Farmer’s Market which currently takes place on Wednesdays and Saturdays in the Orscheln parking lot. We are trying to reach new growers and local artisans to provide them an outlet and make getting their produce and artwork to market. If this sounds like you or someone you know, please call the Chamber (785.242.1000)…otherwise plan on coming down to shop for your summer vegetable cravings on Thursday, July 22.
 
Local Housing:
 
Most know how tight local real estate is and the fact that it is a seller’s market right now…meaning once listed, houses sell fast and often for more than the asking price. This week Community Planning Director Wynndee Lee and local realtor, Cal Lantis gave the Franklin County Development Council (FCDC) an update on the local market and inventory both from the perspective of what’s available and what needs to be available (or what’s lacking) for the community to continue to grow. Here is the complete report which is way more detailed than I can go into here with current inventories, history of new builds, and much more. Another fact not always understood is to sustain continued growth we need housing which meets all markets…from $100,000.00 homes to $500,000.00 homes. We have several local builders doing a great job of building new homes and many on infill lots (meaning building a new home on a lot on which a home was removed). New subdivisions are nice, but they require complete infrastructure build out, plating, and usually someone willing to speculate on building a few homes. Currently, the biggest vacancy in local housing is multifamily housing with high density (meaning apartment buildings) which house multiple families in a condensed area. It is good to openly discuss these issues and continue to look to the future. Cal Lantis said a community must plan for who they are…or preferably, who they want to become – well said!!
 
Dexter Days:
 
Last week I mentioned we were heading to Cedar Vale for the weekend…our daughter Chelsy teaches in the nearby community of Dexter. So the clan went to Dexter on Saturday for a full day of fun events (pictures here). The kids’ activities were all in the morning. Cherry and Max (age 5) ran in the 2-mile race…both finished. We also took our turtle, Jarrod (as in Royals player, Jarrod Dyson) which won our local Chautauqua Festival turtle race. And in 30 turtles down south, he placed 2nd in the Cowley County turtle races…pretty good, right!?! Jarrod got to retire to the wilderness when we got home…we’ll look for him next year when the racing season begins!!
 
It’s a Girl:
 
A couple months ago, Chelsy told us they were pregnant with their 4th child…our 10th grandchild. This week we learned it will be a girl (pictures here of the reveal). Once she learned she was having a girl, she baked pink marbles into a cake for the 3 older kids to cut open…they are pretty excited…so are we!! Due date – November 20. 
 
Have a great weekend…I’ll talk to you next week.
 
Onward ~ John 
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000