Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
Cherry and I went to the new Legacy Market last evening…I’m amazed and pleased at how this market is taking off. We had 13 vendors…and about any selection of summer vegetables you can imagine (few pictures here). In addition to vegetables, there were cut flowers, baked good, craft items of all imagination…Alma Cheese was there with smoked meats, and a plethora of cheeses. Night Hawk Winery did wine tasting and you could purchase your favorite wine from a wide selection. Making last evening even more special, the Spotlight Dance Academy came and performed for the marketers and shoppers. 
 
We are committing 100 percent to getting the market up and going and sustaining it next year. Over the winter we will get the market registered with the Kansas Land of Ahs to make it an officially state-designated market. In addition to the official designation, we will also qualify the market to receive Kansas Benefit Cards (EBT) which is food assistance cards…opening the market to a wider number of families to be able to purchase the fresh fruits and vegetables.  
 
Even though it was hot, people shopped and visited in the shade of Legacy Square, watched the dancers performing, purchased a meal from the Simonelli Food Truck and…basically enjoyed the evening. Circle next Thursday on your calendar…love to see you at the Market!!
 
Kalmar Truck at Legacy Square:
 
We are closer to having the Kalmar (Play) Truck placed at the Legacy Square playground…the truck is now in Ottawa and I got to see it this week (pictures here)!! As part of Kalmar’s contribution to Legacy Square, the company donated a truck to be stripped of the engine, hoses, fluids, etc., and placed on the playground for kids to drive, flip all the switches and have fun with. You can see in the pictures I couldn’t resist jumping behind the wheel!! It will be a fabulous addition for adventurous youth with big imaginations. I know how kids love to climb in a combine or tractor cab…it will be the same with this truck. Wynndee Lee and I met with DJ Walsh, City Parks Director to establish/verify where to locate the truck on the playground…should be in place in about a month. I’ll keep you posted. 
 
AG Derek Schmidt:
 
Kansas Attorney General, Derek Schmidt was in Ottawa Wednesday to address Farm Bureau members at their annual banquet (pictures here). Members celebrated their organization’s year in review and honored young scholarship recipients getting ready to ship off to some form of post-secondary school…as well as some century farms. Most know Cherry and I began our leadership experiences and community service working in Farm Bureau…I have much allegiance to the organization on all levels (local, state and national) for their promotion and advocacy of agriculture.
 
When the AG took the microphone, he gave a very forensic description of all the cases in which his office is embroiled…it’s a much different perspective than you hear on the evening news. In the case of the controversial Senate Bill (SB) 40, the omnibus legislation crafted in which the legislature tried to foresee all directions in which the pandemic would turn while they were out of session…thereby creating rules to guide (in some instances) situations which haven’t arisen (like the Delta variant). It has been challenged in the courts by parents who do not what their children mandated to wear masks in school…but this is only a very small part of the bill. The legislation also expanded the Legislative Coordinating Council…which is the group which represents the Legislative Branch while representatives are not in session. Our Kansas Constitution sets the number of participants on the Council…suffice to say…there are many things in which to agree and disagree contained in the new statute. It was a curve ball the AG’s office wasn’t expecting and he is having to devote a fair number of staff to the issues. But…that’s the job of the AG – to represent the people in protecting them for and against rules which threaten our democracy. 
 
I think most know Derek and I are longtime friends, and he is a candidate in the 2022 Governor’s race. I applaud his efforts…it will be a long campaign trail ahead, but he is an excellent leader. Good for him for his willingness to share his talents with the people of Kansas. The election is over a year away and already the season is upon us (ugh!!). 
 
Ottawa University Fusion:
 
What a fun evening last Tuesday…OU students moved back to town last weekend and we officially welcomed them at Fusion. Fusion is the event at which our local businesses, churches and organizations have an opportunity to show students what resources are available in the community…OU food service prepares a meal for the students and any community member who wants to join in the large picnic (pictures here). Franklin County Health had a dunk tank on location…Dr. Regg was convinced to sit on the “wet seat”…these things never work out well for the potential dunk-ie. The Health Department was also vaccinating any student who wanted to receive the COVID shot…many did. 
 
When you see an OU student, be sure to welcome them…this community is their home away from home. Parents who have sent children to school know what I’m talking about…everyone needs a support system to function – in many cases, students have moved many miles from the only support system they have known. Make them feel at home!!
 
COVID Update:  
 
Not necessarily much new here…the Delta variant continues to kick our butt. Locally 23 new cases this week…also this week, the Franklin County Health Department posted updated rules for quarantining (read here). This week’s update of the numbers is here. Our local hospital has more COVID patients now than at the peak of the pandemic (or maybe this is the peak!?!). Schools begins next week…this adds a dimension. The Ottawa School Board placed a mask restriction on all buildings at their most recent meeting, but has committed to revisit the rule every 2-weeks. This seems fair…this is one of those instances where half the people will get their way and the other half will claim they have been treated unfairly. At the expense of sounding like a broken record…if you haven’t already…get vaccinated – protect yourself, family and friends.
 
Leadership Franklin County:
 
The 2021/22 Leadership Franklin County class was announced this morning (pictures here) at a Chamber Coffee…here is the complete roster. This will be the 48th Leadership class. The original leadership class was 1985…yours truly was in that first class as a young 29-year-old. The Leadership Class is the longest running and certainly one of the most beneficial programs your Chamber provides for the community. Back in the early 80s, leaders such as Russel Crites, Dottie Wellington, Earl Devore, Charles Mavity, Jim McCrossen and Jerry Thompson (just to name a few) saw a need to develop future leaders for this community…it was very farsighted. This program has paid off in dividends…leadership in Franklin County is a deep well because of this program. Graduates of the class have gone on to be City and County Commissioners, School Board members, State Legislators, and successful businessmen. The participants immediately become a new network and also are introduced to community leaders is a way their network expands exponentially. My thanks to the employers who allow their employees time to participate in the program…and also the participants who are committing their time and talents to learning, leadership and this community. Like I said…this has been amazing program!!
 
Early Census Results:
 
This certainly isn’t a complete report or even a very deep dive, but we have our first whiff of our 2020 census data. Ottawa went from 12,649 citizens in 2010 to 12,625 citizens in 2020…a drop of 24 people (complete Cities of Kansas numbers here). There will be way more coming out on the total number in the next few weeks ahead…stay tuned.
 
I hope I see you at Travis Marvin Concert this evening…the weather is cooling (the rain last night was perfect). It is going to be a perfect summer evening with temps in the 70s…there could be a shower in the area, but the stage and your seats will be under the pavilion. Bring your lawn chair…show starts at 7:30! 
 
I’m sure I’ll have pictures of Travis and the event next week…talk to you then.
 
Onward ~ John  
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000