Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
There were 3 words which described this week…Hot! Hot! Hot! Next week the temps will be dropping into the lower 90s…not exactly a cold wave – but 7 – 8 degrees cooler. To be fair, we are still in August for a few more days…hot weather and August have long since gone together. Keep hanging in…we all know autumn is coming with cool nights and peasant days…hope it hurries!       
 
Census & Housing:
 
Results of the 2021 decennial census continue to leak out slowly…last week I mentioned the population of Ottawa has shrunk by a whopping 24 people. I haven’t seen total numbers for Franklin county, but can’t believe they are not out yet…I just haven’t found them. City numbers are easier to find…Wellsville grew by 96 people; Richmond was down 5; Williamsburg down 7; and Pomona was up by 52 people. Just doing the math on the 5 largest community populations it calculates out to Franklin County growing by 112 people…but there is a lot of space between the towns which haven’t been accounted yet. 
 
We did learn this week, that House District 59, represented by Blaine Finch and includes most of Franklin County (not Wellsville) shrank by 876 citizens. Part of the 59th is in Osage County. Our Senate District, District 12 represented by Caryn Tyson, shrank by 4,821. District 12 begins with all of Franklin County and goes south including all of Anderson, Allen, Linn and parts of Miami and Bourbon Counties. The long of the short…our district lines will change a little, but not too much. The challenges for the reapportionment committee will be a continuing shrinking in western Kansas. We’ll keep watching the numbers and reports from the census and reapportionment as they trickle out of Washington down to the states.
 
And…a follow-up on housing from last week – on Wednesday, the City offered at auction 16 ready-to-build lots in the Coves (infrastructure completely in place). The results were, only 4 lots were purchased. I’m not sure what, if any, kind of a statement that makes. I know from being in meetings the Commission’s goal is to get the City out of the land business and houses built on these lots…I’ll keep you updated on the next moves.
 
Kansas Works:
 
Housing and population go hand-in-hand with workforce development…this week the Kansas Works Mobile Unit was in Ottawa in front of the Chamber (pictures here). Ottawa is located in Kansas Workforce District 2…the workforce centers in the 2nd district are in Lawrence, Manhattan, Junction City and Topeka. In the past, when coming to Ottawa to meet with employers and potential workforce, they have used locations such as Neosho County Community College and the Library. A town the size of Ottawa was probably getting more attention than the much smaller communities in our state. KansasWorks, a product of all 5 of the state’s workforce districts now has 2 mobile units which travel around the state to provide services to all communities. Their function is twofold…they want to meet with our employers to learn what training is needed in the workforce for them to find the skills and the workers they need for their particular business. Additionally, they meet with and work to get training for people who are either unemployed or underemployed. The ultimate goal of course is to bring employers together with the workforce.  The KansasWorks Mobile Unit will be in Ottawa again on September 22 and October 27…there will be additional dates in the spring. Watch our newsletters for reminders.
 
Daylight Donuts:
 
This is a great place to have a Chamber ribbon cutting…and wow!! – they are busy of a morning (pictures here). Charity McCain is the most recent owner…she is actually celebrating 1-year in business today and invited the Chamber to share it with her. Her and a partner purchased the building and franchise from Hope Anthem Church. Not too long after the purchase, the partner backed out and she had to retrench and restructure the business. Today she has 9 employees and in addition to her business at the corner of 17th and Main Streets, she delivers donuts to Bert’s in Wellsville, Love’s in Ottawa and also the station in Princeton. Besides donuts, Charity serves breakfast burritos and biscuits and gravy. Betty Birzer and her have partnered to offer “Donuts for Do-Gooders”…click the link if you want to learn how you can nominate someone for free donuts. It was fun to hear her story…she told about the struggles and ultimate success she experienced to get to this point in one year’s time. It was an awesome time and a big crowd to get a Daylight Donut and cut the ribbon…congrats to Charity and her gang!!     
 
Aunt B’s Blossoms:
 
Brenda Hayden spoke to Rotary this week (pictures here). Since moving back to Ottawa several years ago, Brenda has begun her business of growing and selling cut flowers…she said gardening and flowers are a longtime hobby. Now she is turning it into a business. Her nephew, Cole was the inspiration for the name…he used to call her Aunt B. Cole died tragically at the age of 7 from a rare brain disease. In one of the pictures, you will notice Brenda in front of her sunflower field…it was a popular place for picture takers and just lookers. She didn’t ask for money…only for people to enjoy. People responded in an amazing way…they made donations. Brenda raised $1,000.00 of which she donated all back to the Franklin County Cancer Foundation in memory of Cole. Brenda sells at both the Farmers Market and Legacy Market each week. Or…she also has a subscription service in which she will deliver you fresh flowers once a week. You can learn more about it and sign up here if you like. It is always fun to visit with entrepreneurs who turn what they love into a way to make a living. What’s the old saying, “if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Good job Brenda…glad you choose to come home!!
 
Yellow Chamber Currency:
 
Your Chamber has sold Chamber Currency for many years…it has always been green. Individuals or companies purchase the dollars to give to friends or employees for occasions or congratulations. They spend like real dollars in our local business members. The Chamber makes nothing on this…it is just a service, and it keeps money in our community. Recently we were approached by the Ottawa Police Foundation…the foundation funds and puts on D.A.R.E. Camp for 5th graders every year. Problem is…because of COVID, they have been unable to hold the camp for the last 2-years. The foundation has decided to give all the eligible participants who were robbed of the experience, $25.00 of Chamber Currency. Since they would like to know the money is being used and spent, we agreed to make it yellow so we can track it (here’s a picture of the yellow currency). We also still have the green currency…so you will also continue to see it circulated too. Thanks to the OP Foundation…spending money in Ottawa for kids. Good job!!
 
Members Helping Members:
 
Here’s a fun story. Key Apparel recently joined the Chamber and their local representative Seth Needham held a coffee several weeks ago. During that coffee, he created a social media challenge for which he offered prizes of shirts with logos and a $250.00 Key Apparel gift certificate. The challenge was to see who could have the largest reach on a social media post you created telling how great Ottawa is. The winner is Randi Michaelsen with the Corner Market…here is a picture of her receiving her prize.  Randi asked people to describe Ottawa without using the word Ottawa…here is her post and the comments she received. She really knocked it out of the park…and won $250.00 for her efforts!! 
 
Attorney General Derek Schmidt:
 
Several in our family ran into the AG a couple of times this week…here and in Cedar Vale. Of course he’s also a candidate for governor…so is traveling the state a lot nowadays. Earlier this week the General was in Chautauqua County and later Cherry and I hosted Derek at our house to meet with friends and neighbors. Here is a picture of Derek with 3 of our grandkids…as you can see, some were more excited about meeting him than others. 
 
I promised last week to have Max and Newt’s first-day school pics this week…here they are, bright-eyed and ready to go!! Codie was more than ready to tell her big brother’s bye-bye!!
 
Cherry’s birthday was also last Sunday…after church the Browns and Florys took us to lunch to celebrate…here are a couple of pictures of my bride with her babies!! Four years ago on her birthday (in 2017) we had 9-feet of water in our house on the farm from an 11-inch rain…this was a much happier day!!
 
Do something to stay cool this weekend…it’s too hot to get too excited about doing anything else! 
 
Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John 
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000