Dear Chamber Supporters:

Even though the temps and weather don’t seem like Christmas all the activities do…we’ve attended several kids Christmas programs and still have a few to go, driving around at night, the town is adorned in Christmas lights and displays, Christmas songs on the radio…but admittedly, 70-degree days makes getting completely in the mood a bit different and even somewhat difficult.

Also, as we steam to year’s end, many pronouncements are being offered regarding top news stories, who was lost, how the year stacks up to last year, and many more observations. Dictionary.Com gets into the act too…every year they designate a Word of the Year. For this year’s locution they have chosen the word “allyship”. Making this year’s word of the year unique is the fact it is a brand-new word, only created in 2021…a noun, it means the status or role of a person who advocates and actively works for the inclusion of a marginalized or politicized group in all areas of society…not as a member of that group but in solidarity with its struggle and point of view and under its leadership.
Their webpage explains, “2021 was a year defined by the many ongoing impacts of the pandemic and the polarization of 2020 – and the various ways we continue to grapple with them. The vastness of such a year could never be fully summarized with a single word. But there is one word that’s intertwined with so many of the things we’ve experienced in 2021.”

I’m guessing for most your vernacular has been widened today…I certainly hadn’t heard the word allyship used in conversation until now. Regardless it seems like a worthy choice given the challenging social issues facing us all today…now, at some point, I’ll have to see if I can use it in a sentence while speaking!!

Bob Dole:

It was sad to learn of the passing of Bob Dole this week…the greatest of statesman in my mind. I searched this week for an old picture of Cherry and me took with Bob in his office of the U.S. Senate Majority Leader back in the 1980s. Cherry and I had traveled to Washington D.C. and at that time anyone could walk up to the Capitol and enter through any door…no security. We went to his office and he ordered lunch and we visited with him for the better part of an hour. Many profess the majority leader’s office offers the best view of the National Mall in D.C…I think I would agree – although I admit being a little starstruck in that moment. I couldn’t find the picture but will always remember the occasion. He impressed me as such a Statesman…commenting that politics isn’t the art of getting what you want, it’s the art of the possible…giving something so everyone gains. He was extremely witty and a very pleasant and gentle person. When you think about it, if you combine the years of service of President Eisenhower and Senator Dole, Kansas stood on the national stage in strong leadership positions from the mid-1940s until the late-1990s. Our midwestern common sense approach was ingrained in the national policy…wish it were so today. Bob Dole’s was a life well-lived…we are all better from him having served!!

OakStar Bank:

In driving down 23rd Street this week, I saw the “now open” sign in front of the community’s newest bank, OakStar Bank. Having heard it was coming for many months, I stopped in to learn their plans for Ottawa. The new undertaking is led and organized by two longtime community leaders, Margie Hinderliter and Nanette Maxwell (picture here)…between the two of them, they profess 54-years of banking experience. Margie and Nanette are anxious to be up to full strength…they are building deposits and looking to hire a lender. Originally chartered in 2005 in Missouri, the OakStar company has only recently begun moving into Kansas locations. They feel their sweet spot are communities the size of Ottawa…their motto, we have challenged ourselves to make banking fun…we are firm believers that banking doesn’t have to be boring. Welcome to Ottawa OakStar…also good to see Margie and Nanette at the helm. Both are anxious for you to stop in and say hi too.

Legacy Square Christmas:

Legacy Square is transformed into Christmas too (few pictures here). While admittedly a work in progress over several years, the goal is to eventually create a winter wonderland in the north half of the space. This year Hope Anthem Church pitched in helping pay for some decorations and providing all the manpower to install…the church is having a community Christmas service in the Square on Christmas eve from 5:30-7:15 p.m. All of Ottawa is invited to attend…they were motivated to help us decorate. If you have a vision for what a winter wonderland might look like, give us a call. We will continue to improve and add to the display in the years to come!

Hot Chocolate Hustle:

Last Saturday, the Chautauqua Festival Committee was thinking 4th of July in December…they staged the first annual Hot Chocolate Hustle, a 5K run, to raise money for summer fireworks (pictures here). They didn’t do badly their first time out the gate…approximately 60 runners helped raise $500.00 for the summer display. You can still purchase a t-shirt for $10.00 if you want to help the cause. The committee has already begun the planning for the summer pyrotechnics show…they have learned the cost of fireworks has greatly increased from last year to this year. The committee came to the quick realization they needed to start fundraising early…if you want to donate to the summer display, you can do so in the Chamber. At the end of the un-timed race, all runners got a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows and peppermint…I believe I would have started there…in the coco line…(and probably stayed there too!!).

O-Town Reads:

The Ottawa Library hosted Chamber members (pictures here) for their reveal of the annual O-Town Reads book…the book which you can pick up for free at the Library and in which the Library schedules programming to engage the community in conversation. This is the seventh year for the program…and admittedly one of my favorite each year. Terry Chartier, Director for the Ottawa Library and her staff do an amazing job in selecting compelling books which allow conversations and discussions in what are sometimes difficult or not pleasant topics…the books are always fascinating in some manner or another This year’s title, “The Sun Does Shine” by Anthony Ray Hinton, is his true story of how he was wrongly incarcerated on death row in Alabama for 30-years. It’s a story of survival and forgiveness. Like I mentioned…you can pick this book up for free – they want you to read the book and pass your copy along to someone else. When the weather does finally turn cold (and I guarantee it will) what a good opportunity to sit in your favorite chair and enjoy a great story of forgiveness and eventual life-changing success!!

Kids Programs and Santa:

I began by mentioning children’s Christmas programs…here are a few pictures. I’ll probably have more next week as we head to Cedar Vale this weekend to take in a Christmas program and a 1st-grade basketball game…oh – and admittedly to see new baby Johnna too.

Next Thursday, December 16, please stop by the Chamber between 11:00-1:30 for a Christmas greeting and to grab lunch with your Chamber friends. Our annual event (sans 2020) is always popular, and we very much look forward to and enjoy seeing everyone. Plan to stop by.

Two weeks until Christmas…remember you don’t have to worry about delivery if you pick something unique from one of our downtown merchants…many great choices. You better get shopping if you haven’t already!

Talk to you next week…

Onward ~ John

John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
[email protected]
785-242-1000