Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
September is a great month for our community…last weekend was a fantastic Power of the Past – this weekend the Ol’ Marais River Run. We started seeing vintage power rods driving around even on Monday this week…I expect these early arrivers are mostly local car buffs getting their cars out of storage and dusting them off. You will begin seeing a lot of restored cars driving about the community today. The car club says pre-registrations are down about 200 cars…but they are expecting the numbers to be about the same after the day-of-the-event registrations.
 
Next weekend is the Bad Astra bike race…a 100-mile dirt road race on bikes around Franklin County (there are also 50- and 25-mile options available too). The first year for this event, organizers Josh Giambalvo and Jeremiah Walters are hoping for 150 riders. Last I knew they were at approximately 120 pre-registered for the grueling ride. This is a timed race…everyone leaves from Legacy Square and after completing a figure-8 of Franklin County, will all end up back at the Square.
 
Another know lesser-known event this weekend…Ottawa is hosting the Kansas League of Municipalities board meeting…Thursday evening mayors from 15 Kansas communities enjoyed a meal and fellowship at The Corner Market. Today they will meet formally for their regular board meeting at City Hall. Our own Mayor, Sara Caylor is chair of the League this year…it’s typical to honor the Chair by allowing them to host in their home community. Sara picked a great weekend to show off Ottawa to mayors from around the state!!
 
Traffic Patterns:
 
Because of events and construction all converging at the same time, there will be a need to alter traffic patterns through the community. If you have lived here for any time at all, you already know what traffic is like on Car Show weekend. Different this year, the K-68 overpass project, a Kansas Department of Transportation project, and will not be completed for another 3-4 weeks. KDOT has been very amenable to help create a workaround for this special weekend. Friday through Sunday all traffic will be one-way westbound across the overpass bridge (with no stoplight). Local people will know how to use side streets to navigate to Main Street and then north across the Main Street river bridge to get to the park or the northside of town. Commuting traffic will be directed to I-35 to catch back up with K-68 and then either continue west, or east back into Ottawa.
 
Saturday evening during Cruise Night, the very most eastern lane of the river bridge will be open to northbound through traffic not participating in the actual cruise. If, for instance, someone unknowingly came north on South Cedar to 1st Street to eventually go north on Main, they would be trapped…only way out to go back and out to I-35. Therefore only 3 lanes of the bridge will be used for Cruisers of vintage cars and one lane for normal northbound traffic. A little confusing…but we do what we need to do to welcome all the guests we are expecting this weekend and be as accommodating as possible.
 
Maggie’s Popcorn & Nuts:
 
Another of our own received a nice honor this week, Mary Raley, owner of Maggie’s, was featured in a regional magazine…you can read the article here. VoyageKC, a regional magazine which prides itself in finding “hidden gems” in the greater metropolitan area which they consider a destination location and worth the drive. Ottawa citizens already know what a gem Maggie’s is…and even a better destination after adding ice cream this summer. The article is worth the read…great pictures of Mary, her store and her mother Maggie. And Mary does a fantastic job of representing Ottawa and the downtown with glowing comments. A big thank you to Mary and Maggie and the work they’re doing at 230 S. Main Street…we’re glad you chose Ottawa!!
 
COVID Update:
 
This begins to sound like a broken record…but the cases continue to happen – 43 new cases this week and 6 hospitalizations at our local hospital (here is this week’s situation update). Our percentage of positive tests continues to tick down (currently around 9 percent…certainly higher than the 2 and 3 percent last March and April). The State of Kansas hovers at 50 percent vaccinated…our own Franklin County is doing better – we are at 60 percent of people who have received at least the first shot. This link is on the Franklin County webpage and contains good information regarding the vaccines, when, where, and how to get yours; common misconceptions; and also visits about booster shots and when they might be necessary or available. You can make an appointment to receive your vaccination by calling 785.229.3531.
 
Sustainable Energy:
 
Our Rotary speakers were interesting this week…Riley Scott (picture here) and George Stafford represented BOOST Kansas, an initiative of the American Clean Power Association, in describing our current and future energy needs. When I formerly worked in the Kansas Senate for (then) Kansas Majority Leader, Derek Schmidt, we passed legislation which would require Kansas to be 20 percent sustainable energy by the year 2020…a subsequent legislature eventually amended the statute to read “highly recommends” the 20 percent by 2020. At the time of the original legislation (approximately 2007), the goal seemed unattainable…we were hovering somewhere around 5 percent at the time. In 2021, in the State of Kansas, 42 percent of all the energy produced comes from wind…we are 5th of all the States for wind power installed (complete PowerPoint here). For those wondering, Ottawa receives a little over 30 percent of its electrical power from sustainable sources…besides wind, the portfolio includes solar and some hydro. It’s good our whole society is more conscience about being environmentally friendly…there is only one Earth – it is our duty to protect it!!
 
Couple of Events at Legacy Square:
 
I want to share just a few pictures from Legacy Square this week…you remember we offered to allow non-profits to use the event space free of charge for a couple of years, if they would plan sustainable community events. The first was last Sunday…Hope Anthem Church organized a Chiefs Sunday (pictures here). They did an amazing job of converting the space to a sanctuary/playground. The KC Wolf was driving around, they served a meal, held a service under the pavilion and blowup bouncy toys for the kids in the green space. All in all, they had approximately 700 people attend.  
 
On Wednesday, Ottawa High School used the space to organize their homecoming parade (pictures here). The high schoolers marched down Main Street and held a pep rally on the Court House lawn.
 
Day on the Farm (DOF):
 
Another popular event which took a COVID hiatus was DOF…a day Sylvester Ranch opens its operation of a working farm to all 3rd Graders in Franklin County to learn about agriculture and how food, fiber and energy are produced (here are a few pictures). Franklin County Farm Bureau Assn., the Frontier Extension Service, and a community committee chaired by Shawn Turner and Beth Zillinger, organize the event. Many times, the presenters are high school students in FFA or FCCLA…this makes the program doubly impactful – kids teaching kids! And, learning about agriculture is important too…when I was in school, a big percentage of students came from a farm or their parents did. This is no longer the case. Every child needs to understand the importance and work it takes to feed a nation and the world.
 
Take Part this Weekend:
 
I encourage everyone to take part in all the activities going on in Ottawa this weekend. Here is the complete Car Show Schedule. Events will begin this evening with a Bop Daddies concert in Forest Park…the Bop Daddies play 60s and 70s classic rock and are always a fun time. The Chautauqua Festival Committee is providing a beer garden – bring your lawn chair and come on down, relax and enjoy the music all the hubbub of the night before the car show. Of course, the show takes place Saturday and Sunday…the Cruise Night begins in the downtown at 6:00 – come early to get a good spot. There will be all kinds of food opportunities in which to partake both in the park and on Main Street. It will be crowded…so if you are nervous about COVID, wear a mask.
 
Hope to see you at some of the events this weekend…
 
Onward ~ John 
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000