Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
Finally a little rain this week…we were extremely dry. My rain gauge recorded 3.05 inches…a very nice fall rain. We certainly don’t need as much rain this time of year as is in the spring and summer…establishing a little moisture in the ground and letting the lawns get their last growth in before the first frost, which could/should happen any time is a good thing. Certainly the north wind and 50 degrees this morning felt different. Weather-wise, 2021 has been about as normal around here as you can hope for…realize it is not the same for the entire nation/world. It’s about time we saw our fair share of decent climate conditions…now that I’ve said it out loud, we’ll probably pay for it this winter. 
 
COVID Update:
 
This battle is trending in the right direction for sure…I was in meetings this week where I heard both Dr. Cobbs say things were really evening out on the pandemic side for students…additionally I heard a very similar report from Kaci Brady, the Communications Director at Franklin County. The percent positive has finally dropped to 7.1 percent for October, after raging to 15.5 percent in July and August and 11.8 percent for September…and instead of 50-60 cases this last week, there were only 12 (4 current) hospitalizations. Here is this week’s update.
 
News on vaccinations is all positive too. The Pfizer vaccine has already been approved for booster shots…Thursday this week, the FDA approved the Moderna shots for boosters and today is considering the Johnson & Johnson. Once FDA has approved, it still has one more blessing to receive, but ABC News reports the boosters could be available for all the vaccines within 2-weeks. Also…another study shows (not yet approved) mixing the vaccines (i.e. get Moderna originally and a Pfizer booster for example) is safe and maybe even beneficial. I’ll let you know when this is officially approved. For now…if you have had the Pfizer shot and you want a booster, best advice is to check with your doctor or call the Franklin County Health Department at 785.229.3530 (you can also call this number for your initial dose of the vaccine). 
 
Proximity Park:
 
I know the entire community is waiting to hear positive news regarding a new tenant in our new business park. Paul Bean, Franklin County Economic Council Director, sent out the following report to his members a week ago:
 
“I am happy to share with you that we had a site visit at Proximity Park. This was round three with this industry as we work to recruit them to our community. I am proud to say we beat out three other communities in Kansas. It is now between us and communities in other states. We had great support for this site visit. We greeted our guests at the Ottawa Airport as they arrived in their corporate jet. Waiting to greet them were the mascots from OU and USD 290, the OU Pep Band, and a number of our city, county, school district, and elected officials. Our guests were very impressed.”
 
“While here they received a quick tour of our community and then we had a tent, chairs, and tables for the meeting which was held at Proximity Park. In addition, the county, sheriff, and individuals provided ATVs for our guests to ride around Proximity Park on to see the location firsthand. Afterward we treated our guests to Smoke Creations BBQ, which they loved. Our guests left and indicated how impressed they were with our community. We can be proud of our community. We had two business days to pull all of this together. We also had representation here from Kansas Gas and Bartlett & West. I want to applaud our city staff for helping set up our event as well. I also must let you know that the Kansas Department of Commerce was here supporting our efforts as well.”
 
“We don’t know if we will make it to the next round. We should hear back sometime in October. I can say with certainty that we provided a great welcome and a great location for this industry to consider. We can all be proud of the teamwork that took place on behalf of our community.” 
 
This is all positive news…I wanted you to hear that just because you don’t hear updates, there are things going on behind the scenes on most weeks. One of these will hit (maybe this one) and the news will be fabulous…good work Paul!!
 
USD 290 & City Commission Candidate Forum:
 
Over 80 people attended and hundreds watched on Facebook Live the local candidate forum for City and School Board seats…in the weeks ahead, there will be hundreds more. Sponsored by the Chamber, AT&T and Franklin County Farm Bureau, we were pleased with the turnout and interest level in these elections…here are a few pictures. Additionally, you can re-watch the forum by clicking here for the City Commission and by clicking here for the School Board. Former City Commissioner, Blake Jorgensen read questions submitted by the audience…Sara Caylor and Jason Hedges who helped sort and filter questions said both the school board and city commissioner race received approximately 80 questions – wow! So you can imagine every question wasn’t asked…but their job was to sort questions and try to make sure as many topics represented in the questions were queried. If you would like to know a little more about the candidates, you can click here for some of their bio’s.
 
School board candidates responded to questions on what needs to be improved for students and staff, what was done right and what could have been done better during the pandemic, their thoughts on Critical Race Theory and what their vision for the 290 District is for the next 10-years. City commission contenders were asked similar questions regarding the City…vision for the next 10-years, their personal philosophies regarding property taxes (and the raising thereof), their vision for city growth and how they defined growth. All-in-all I think most relevant and pertinent questions got asked and answered in both races. Many times if your question is not specifically asked, you can draw conclusions regarding a candidate’s feeling from the answers they did provide on other topics.  
 
There is guaranteed to be change on both bodies as all the incumbents in both races choose did not to run for an additional term. The school board race is selecting 3 candidates from 6 contenders and the City race is voting for 3 representatives from 7 candidates. All are well-rounded candidates with a multi plethora of views and ideas. You should be able to find representation which comes close to matching your way of thinking. Advanced voting begins in the County Clerk’s office in the Court House on Monday, October 18…the election is November 2. Take time to know the candidates and vote…your civic responsibility!!
 
Vyve Broadband Internet Provider:
 
Vyve employees hosted Chamber members this morning at the Corner Market on Main Street to better inform citizens of their services and products (pictures here). This local broadband provider works non-stop to create a world-class network of services, built around their customers. They’re invested in people, communities and service and are proud to service rural America in 16 states bringing fast internet backed by a rich fiber network…PLUS phone and TV for your home or business. Vyve is committed to bringing the latest technology and services to the Ottawa community not because they work here, but live here too. For internet service at unbeatable speeds with unbelievable prices call 855.367.8983. They are anxious to welcome you to Vyve country.
 
65 & Grandkids:
 
I mentioned last week I flipped the calendar another year…a big portion of my family showed up on Sunday to help me celebrate (here are a few pictures). There were 6 grandkids and my brother and sisters and my mom. It was very festive and I truly feel celebrated. And…even though I’m sorer and slower than I once was, am ready to keep on plugging. We still have a lot of work to do in Ottawa…we know it’s a great community – we’re shooting for awesome, fabulous, and fantastic!! What is awesome about my job is working on these continued improvements with and for all of you!
 
Keep up the charge…I’ll be right there with you. Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John 
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000