Dear Chamber Supporters:
For those concerned the weather was too warm in December…no worries now!! Geeminy…it’s cold outside!! I’m glad I’m still not milking 80-cows. Most know Cherry and I had a dairy most of our lives…when I was milking and doing chores, I would be outside most of the day. I embraced the cold…really no other choice. Not so much anymore…now I can hardly stand to open the door to let the dog outside. I’ve definitely turned into a warm-weather person!!
Also worth mentioning is the 1-year anniversary of the insurrection in our nation’s Capital…the moment will forever be a stain on history. The United States is known as the country which transfers power peacefully…we missed the mark in 2021. Still…it’s a lesson learned. In history there are many stains on our democracy, and we’ve stood the test each time. Democracy is not easy…you must want it – covet it almost. It takes hard work and allows for mistakes to be made. COVID, the election of 2020, all the civil unrest…all have really pulled at our seems!
COVID Update:
This year is not necessarily beginning better…a huge spike in the pandemic nationwide. The local numbers for this week haven’t been updated yet, but the last week of 2021 saw 281 infections…the highest number of infections in Franklin County since the start of the pandemic (here is the most recent update)! This is in light of the fact that the CDC now allows infected quarantined individuals to be considered recovered quicker. Of the 281 cases…only 15 breakthrough cases. It is a particularly challenging time for schools and large employers dealing with big workforces. Educators are facing staffing shortages – as teachers test positive, it becomes increasingly difficult to identify substitutes to keep classes staffed and progressing. 
I think most health experts agree, Omicron is more highly contagious…but less virulent. Still some continue to get extremely ill. The best advice remains…get fully vaccinated, use good judgement and use the precautions which make you feel most comfortable. And I’ll add one more thing… let’s all be mindful the precautions which make some individuals feel comfortable differ from person to person. We all need to be very forgiving and understanding during this time period.
Christmas at Legacy Square:
Take a look at the pictures from the Christmas Eve service in Legacy Square! It was a very festive and fun and meaningful event. There were animals for the stable, hayrides, Santa Claus, ornament decorating…staged by Hope Anthem Church, they turned Legacy Square into a very festive place. It is pleasing to see some figure out and discover how to make the public space come to life and use it as it was intended. The Chamber has several public events planned for the coming year…but I encourage you to consider how the organizations with which you are involved can use the space. I’ll mention too…if you are a non-profit we are still offering the Square for free. Here is the form used to reserve the area…Chamber staff will help with logistics. All you have to do is imagine and plan your event. 
Annual Community Awards and Benefit Auction:
Time is running out to nominate someone for our local community annual awards…nominations are due to the office by close of business January 10. Here are all the nomination forms. To remind you we honor the Russel Crites Award for Community Service, Community Builder, Entrepreneur of the Year, Horizon Award, and the Smile of the Year. This year’s banquet is sponsored by Ottawa University and being held January 27 in the Schendel Conference Center…you can reserve your seat at the occasion by registering here. Everyone who registers to attend will receive a banquet ticket and a $25.00 gift certificate to PrimeTime Grille and Fusion Alley…which we hope you will use the week of the Chamber’s annual celebration and annual auction.   
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 will be notified and 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. 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).
Wrapping up Christmas 2021:
Cherry and I have most of our decorations tucked away…except for the outside items. I haven’t shared any Christmas morning pictures with you…you can see how special Christmas morning is in the eyes of the kids. Also a few random pictures…learning to smile and learning to sew.
Sounds like warmer weather for next week…let’s hope so. And I’m sure most Chiefs fans are still stinging from the loss last Sunday…let’s hope we fare better against Denver on Saturday! We need to finish strong!
One week of 2022 under our belt…2021 began with the insurrection – 2022 started with the largest nationwide spike in the pandemic since its beginning!! Stay strong…we don’t know what this year will bring but I guarantee it will be interesting and exciting!
Talk to you next week…
Onward ~ John  
John Coen
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce