Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
The Ottawa travelers who have been exploring Ireland for the last 10-days made it home last evening…all safe, no COVID, and all describing a wonderful trip and experience. The first group of voyagers returned home Tuesday…the second group did a second lap and ventured on to Belfast before coming home yesterday. Several of the first group have been by the office to describe their experience. For many, it’s about the friendships and camaraderie forged and enjoyed on a long adventure…but they all have amazing pictures. Here are a few last pictures from their sightseeing…that is, for a year, when we can enjoy the same stories (different pics) from Egypt. I hope you are considering joining the Egypt excursion…link to the brochure and application here. The next trip is going to be a combination of cruising the Nile and sightseeing. It really sounds amazing – Cherry and I have already signed up.
 
Veteran’s Day:
 
Continuing with topics previously mentioned, but left incomplete…what a fabulous Veteran’s Day Parade last Saturday (pictures here)! People lined both sides of the street to watch the veterans, army vehicles, bands, dancers and floats. There was a large representation of “Vettes for Vets” (think Corvettes)…with very old cars to new cars in the display. Kids scrambled into the street to grab candy thrown by most parade marchers. I took Evie, Jase and Patton…Jase said, and I quote, “this is better than Halloween.” Guess I can’t argue with that! Actual Veteran’s Day was yesterday, November 11. The Armistice ending WWI was officially signed at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month. They had a big celebration in downtown Kansas City yesterday honoring the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the WWI Memorial. If you have never been to the museum or memorial I guarantee you…it is worth your while. Thanks to all our vets…not only local but everywhere. They serve to protect the freedoms we enjoy!! Thank you!!  
 
Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA):
 
More commonly referred to as the recently passed Federal Transportation Package, the IIJA now sits on President Biden’s desk which he most certainly will sign and soon. Described as a “once-in-a-generation” bill, the entire bill is $1.2 trillion of spending for infrastructure. It’s hard to interpret what all this will eventually mean. Some are comparing it to FDR’s New Deal, but it is hard to draw those comparisons…it’s for sure more money and makes a larger per capita investment in infrastructure; similarly it will create new jobs. But total spending when compared to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is much, much less than the 1930 & 40’s New Deal legislation. The GDP is the standard used by economists to compare and judge the two spending bills which are 85-years apart. 
 
According to the Kansas Department of Transportation, here is what it means for Kansas… $145.7 million in additional annual funding for highways, bridges, rural transit and electronic vehicle infrastructure (full KDOT statement here). The IIJA is over 2,700 pages long…it’s going to take everyone a few days to figure out what it does and doesn’t do. Here was the White House press release describing components of the newly passed IIJA. All I can say is stay tuned…hopefully we see some of the spending in Franklin County!!
 
OHS Pathway’s Advisory Councils:
 
Thursday evening over 40 local citizens were served a great meal by the Culinary Arts Class at the high school before spending most of the evening discussing and advising teachers regarding the real world versus the curriculum offered in the Career and Technical Education Center (CTE) at Ottawa High School (here are a few pictures from the evening). Having advisory councils is a requirement of CTE Education…I serve on the Marketing Pathway – but there are 21 different career pathways offered at OHS (here is a list of the complete offerings). This represents more than any other school in Kansas…and, CTE participants represent a higher graduation rate.
 
Career Technical Education provides learners with the knowledge and skills they need to be prepared for successful careers. Learners enrolled in CTE programs progress along a specific pathway that is geared for students to learn technical skills, academic skills, employability skills and leadership skills. Leadership skills are learned through the Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSO) in conjunction with classroom instruction. Stella Tharp is the College, Career and CTE Coordinator…she does an amazing job. 
 
This community can be very proud of the investment made in Career Education and the CTE facility. It doesn’t stop here…the backside of the story is the school, Franklin Co. Development Council and Neosho County Community College work together to make sure these students are on some path for certification and can find a job when graduated. Eventually this effort will produce a substantial homegrown workforce…which translates into new industry and higher pay scales. Investment in youth will always pay off!!
 
COVID Update:
 
Rates seem to be on the rise again…locally, in the state and nationwide. Here is this week’s update from the County. Currently there are 78 active cases and 7 hospitalizations. The disease has specifically hit our family a couple of times recently…our Cedar Vale family all became infected and quarantined together for the 10-days. This week, our Shawnee family is currently in quarantine…3 of the 5 infected. Mostly they all have gotten along fine…feel really crummy, runny noses and cough; some with no symptoms at all but tested positive. I got my Moderna booster shot Thursday this week. Click here for information about when and where you can get a booster vaccination or your first shot. There is also information regarding pediatric clinics now that kids as young as 5 can receive a vaccination. Locally there have been 200 breakthrough cases…these are individuals which have gotten ill and have received the vaccine. Nationally breakthroughs run less than 1 percent of fully vaccinated people. Collectively we still need to take precautions; do what we feel keeps us and the people around us safe…especially with cold and flu season virtually here!
 
Grandkids and Beautiful Weather:
 
 What amazing autumn weather we experienced last weekend…and my, my…aren’t the trees just beautiful right now! It doesn’t sound as nice for this weekend (highs in the 40’s for the home K-State game Saturday…ugh). 
 
All our grandkids visited here last weekend…they had a blast playing with each other outside on a beautiful fall day (pictures here). 
 
Most of our gardens are cleaned, tilled and ready for winter…it’s time to sit by the fire and read a good book or watch a movie. Have a great weekend…talk to you next week.
 
Onward ~ John 
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000