Dear Chamber Supporters:

If you need a bit of good news regarding winter and short days, the sun headed back south this week…these are the shortest days in terms of daylight hours – but now growing minutes longer each day. Normally this time of year is a little harder to endure…but this year we’ve had good sunshine and temps in the 50s & 60s. I’m confident the mild weather won’t go on indefinitely…in fact, the extended forecast has highs in the low 30s about a week from now.

Still…given the unseasonably warm weather, I hope you’ve been able to get into the Christmas spirit. While the radio plays “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” and “Frosty the Snowman”…it feels more like “Surfin’ USA” with the Beach Boys. The calendar and the weather don’t always sync like we think they should…this year we will have to sing “Mele Kalikimaka”, which as most know is Merry Christmas in Hawaiian.

Wynndee Lee Retirement:

Last Friday we celebrated Wynndee Lee’s long tenure and now departure from the City (pictures here). Many took turns extoling stories and memories of Wynndee through the years. Dennis Butler, former Ottawa Chief of Police (now doing the same thing in Manhattan) came back to wish Wynndee well. For my part, I appreciate all the support she has given the Chamber during my time here…if I needed something, she’d helped us get it. I’ve also learned valuable lessons from Wynndee when it comes to community planning. Things such as no one wants to live in an unplanned community…to experience real growth it must be planned for. Also, that sidewalks, parks and recreation are a priority…very few advocate in advance for these amenities – and, most often they are viewed as ways to cut expenses on a project. But life is more pleasant and communities happier when green space and travel ways are calculated into the growth strategy. Most know Wynndee is not leaving…just going to the Advancement Department at Ottawa University. So…for now it’s not goodbye – we’ll just see Wynndee in other venues still working for our community!!

Senator Jerry Moran:

Kansas Senator, Jerry Moran took time to stop in Ottawa last Tuesday…specifically he wanted to tour the Halloran Building at 401 South Main Street (pictures here). Down through the years, the building was a mainstay in the Ottawa downtown…housing a lumberyard, grocery store, a new car dealership, and Mode O’Day Manufacturing (a Levi stitching plant). More recently it had slipped from glory and was really just sitting there with no particular purpose. Local contractor and developer, Josh Walker purchased the building and transformed it into the popular Corner Market with an art gallery, business offices and an upstairs which he converted into suite apartments for college students. The Senator had heard about the project and wanted to see for himself. We were sure to extol him with more Ottawa success stories of our local community regarding the hospital, schools, housing development and other progress. Jerry has been a good advocate for Kansas and for Ottawa too. Here is a picture of the first time I met then Representative Moran in Washington D.C. In 1997, our family was the Kansas Farm Bureau Family of the Year which allowed us to travel to D.C. Jerry a newly elected U.S. Congressman in 1996 from the first district greeted us and gave us the photo op. You will notice we all looked a little younger in the picture!! Twenty-four years later and still serving…Jerry has lived a life of service!

Chamber Annual Awards and Celebration:

The Chamber’s annual celebration will have familiar looks…but with change. On January 27 (save the date) we will hold our annual Awards Banquet to honor and recognize our local leaders who stepped up in 2021 to make our community grow and prosper. This event will be sponsored and held at Ottawa University. If you would like to nominate some local individual for the community service they provided in the last year to 18-months you can click here for the nomination forms (due into the Chamber by January 10). Invitations will be coming soon.

Following the Awards Banquet, the week of February 4-10 we will replicate our annual celebration from 2020 at PrimeTime Grille and Fusion Alley. During this week, all our auction items will be on display in the party rooms at PrimeTime…you will be able to view and bid on all items. This year, as last, the bidding is done electronically…so if someone raises your bid, you can place another bid (you don’t have to be at PrimeTime to keep your bid in the lead). By bidding on an item, you will be supporting the Chamber’s Community service. Everyone who purchases a ticket will receive a ticket to the Awards Banquet and also a $25.00 gift card to PrimeTime/Fusion Alley which can be used anytime…we hope you will use it the week of the auction to support and bid on what is usually some very nice donated items. Oh…and if you would like to donate an auction item, call the Chamber and one of our Ambassadors will swing by your place and pick it up (auction items are needed by January 20).

Merry Christmas:

All our kids and grandkids were home last weekend to celebrate our Christmas (few pictures here). It was a fun, family weekend…we always cherish the time when we all can be present – the kids play, adults eat and sleep and eat – and of course, we honor all our family’s Christmas traditions.

Also went to the Faith Lutheran 3-year-old preschool Christmas program this week…let me tell you they are all too cute!! Here are a couple of pictures from there.

All in all I’d opine that locally, we’ve had a pretty good year, haven’t we…given all the uncertainty and dealing with COVID and the like. I feel we’ve rebounded from 2020 and are figuring out how to live our lives once again…albeit with some caution and the need to navigate certain situations differently. From the sounds of things, the Omicron Variant will once again challenge us and the healthcare system in 2022…please be safe. Here is one thing I will say for certain…whatever comes – we will deal with! Be cautions…not afraid!

Merry, Merry Christmas to all of you…talk to you next week.

Onward ~ John

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