Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
Well…I turn 65 this weekend. I’m young enough I remember when 65 sounded old!! I remember my grandparents all turning 65…but they were old – and then my parents…again – old. But now me!?! My plans are to just keep on plugging…if I retired, don’t know what I’d do with all my time. Probably volunteer and be doing most of the same things I’m getting paid to do now (more or less!). No special birthday activities planned…I think we are hosting a sleepover of the Brown girls and the Flory kids. So yes…it won’t be quiet or peaceful. In reflection, it’s really the excitement and the hubbub of the grandkids that takes the sting out of being older!!
 
Ladies’ Night Out (LNO):
 
Last week, LNO was just getting underway when my newsletter went out…I promised a follow-up report this week. It was absolutely an amazing event this year!! Several years we had suffered cool, damp weather…and of course last year, while it was held, numbers were greatly reduced because of COVID. This year the weather was beautiful and the numbers were back (here are a few pictures). We estimate approximately 500 ladies (and a few men) took advantage of browsing through our downtown shops. In years past, the event was held from 4:00-8:00 and it was like a race to make it to all locations. The 1:00-7:00 timeframe allows for a more leisurely pace…and most take advantage of the downtown event to actually shop. Several merchants reported absolutely great sales…all enjoyed seeing all the activity in the downtown. Next year we plan to add more of an art aspect to the event. I think the only thing left is to plan a Men’s Night Out…any ideas anyone?
 
Paint the Town Pink:
 
Here is a neat idea which also serves a purpose…the AdventHealth Foundation is selling pink lightbulbs for the month of October which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. They are suggesting a donation of $10.00 of which all the proceeds will go to the Franklin County Cancer Foundation.  Here are pictures of the pink bulbs.  In addition to the bulb, you can also get a yard sign to call people’s attention to the cause. This flier more completely details the promotion and where you can get you bulbs and signs…the Chamber isn’t listed, but we have asked for the merchandise also to allow everyone who stops by the Chamber the opportunity to make a donation. They refer to this as “Shine Light-Share Hope”…I say we paint the town pink – get your pink bulb and make a donation today.
 
Housing Update:
 
There is not a lot to report here other than a second land auction for the lots in the Coves was held this week…this time all unsold lots went on the market. The starting bids were slightly lower this time (all lots beginning at $10,000.00) and also more people interested. Only selling 2 lots in the first offering, this week, 11 additional lots were sold. In most cases the purchasers were individuals who are looking to build a new home (as opposed to contractors who buy lots to build and speculate)…also in most cases, the buyers purchased side-by-side lots to give them bigger lots and/or bigger homes. In addition to these lots, the Commission voted to also sell the property they own on North Elm Street (these are lots north of first street but south of the river). It is property which someone once upon a time someone officially deeded over the City…and have been maintained by the City for a number of years. These properties will be auctioned by silent, sealed bids. If you are interested in any of the vacant lots the City owns, go to City Hall to learn how they can be purchased. The idea is to get the property back into private hands and back on the tax rolls…hopefully with a new house built on the property too.
 
COVID Update:
 
The disease which won’t go away continues to tug constantly on the fringes of our society. While the rate of infection has steadily slowed over the last few weeks, the severity of the cases tends to be increasing. Our own hospital recently had 9 COVID in-patients…but it is a very variable number. It is fair to say locally we have had more hospitalizations with this latest influx of the Delta Variant than we did from the initial surge in 2020…here is this week’s report. Franklin County vaccination rates are at 61.2 percent of people who have received at least one vaccination shot and 55.8 percent of people who are completely vaccinated. This is slightly ahead of the total Kansas rate which is 60 percent of the population with one shot and 52 percent completely vaccinated. It sounds as if children between the ages of 5-11 will be able to become vaccinated before the end of the year…but not fully approved yet. And the booster shot, which is recommended, for the Pfizer vaccine is now available for anyone who wants the third shot. Moderna has not been approved for a booster shot yet but it is anticipated soon will. Here is more complete information regarding booster shots and when and where you can get them.  As always…if you haven’t been vaccinated at all, you can make an appointment by calling 785.229.3530. 
 
Thriftopia:
 
This valuable asset in our community serves an important role on several fronts. The local secondhand store hosted Chamber members for a coffee this morning…pictures here. Their moto is “Reduce, Reuse, Reimagine”…owned by COF Training Services, not provides a resource for people to donate gently used items for resale, but also serves as an outlet for our local developmentally disabled population to work and serve in the store. It is a unique business model being a non-profit owned by a non-profit, but one that serves a very distinct purpose. They run an incredibly clean store and take the extra steps to make sure when items find new homes they aren’t bringing any unwanted friends with them. This means that all “soft items” need to go through a heat treatment which guarantees that any bedbugs or unwanted critters get removed. As an extra precaution they also bring in a bed bug sniffing dog occasionally to double-check nothing slipped past them.
 
They also discussed that when the world entered the pandemic they began to restructure how they did their staffing, how they operate the reception of their donations, and how they laid out goods throughout the store. This was all done on the basis of efficiency and effectiveness. The Thriftopia team is made up of their two store managers, Tiffany Griffin and Brenda Schneide, COF client employees, and community members who donate their time volunteering. Volunteers are vital to the operation as the store receives as much as 50 tons of donated products every month… Craig Evans mentioned this does not even include books, CDs, and movies. That number really puts into perspective how many treasures are being saved from going into the trash! There are always chances to volunteer in the store if you have an interest in serving in that capacity. If you don’t have the free time to volunteer or the ability to give monetarily, they asked if you would like and share their Facebook posts when they come up… you can view their social media page here. This is a free and easy way to give back to local entities and can make a big difference in their content being seen. 
 
Egypt:
 
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the Chamber’s plans to offer a trip to Egypt a year from this November…what has surprised us all is the amount of interest in this offering. Really just rolled out this last week to our regular travel group, in 3 days we already have 14 signed up and paid…take my word, this is a little unprecedented. It is a very unique travel opportunity to some of the oldest structures in civilization. And…because part of the trip involves a cruise down the Nile River, this trip will likely sell out. There are only so many spots on a boat and, unlike a bus, it’s hard to add an additional boat. You can read more completely about the trip here. There are several ways to get registered…if interested you can sign up by calling the Chamber (785.242.1000) and talking to Sherri; you can fill out this registration form and bring it to the Chamber; or you can go on line to register (you will need this code to get to the Ottawa Chamber trip: IXSJNT) and get your spot reserved. Cherry and I are going…I hope you will too!!
 
Season’s Over:
 
The Royals wrapped their season up last weekend…really not a moment too soon. While maybe a little disappointing, I think most regular watchers feel the potential is there with just a piece or two missing. Here is Cherry and me at our last game of the summer. 
 
Have a relaxing weekend…as I flip the calendar over another year! Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John 
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000
 

ermined about his field of study. He and I are going to the Royals game tonight…albeit it is a very rainy forecast for this afternoon and evening.

 
My grandkids enjoyed the afternoon gathering to celebrate Sam’s big life event…here are a couple family pictures and also of them playing. My extended family is supposed to have a reunion this weekend…we reserved the Shelter House in Forest Park. We will have to see on this one too – have I mentioned this is a very rainy year!!
 
I’ve got to run…Wynndee Lee and I have a meeting in downtown Kansas City this morning. We are meeting with colleagues at Kansas City Area Development Council to better describe to them Proximity Park and the types of industry and manufacturing which would fit and work well in our community. We get many leads from KCADC as well as the Kansas Department of Commerce.
 
Stay dry – talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000