Dear Chamber Supporters:
Normally after the holidays it seems the winter doldrums set in…somehow it doesn’t seem that way this year. At least for me…not yet – they are probably still coming! We’ve had plenty of sunshine with a few warm days sprinkled here and there…and COVID keeps our lives in upheaval. Things are just enough different that somehow life is not boring and certainly not stagnate…at some point we might begin wishing for doldrums!
Chamber Annual Awards Banquet & Auction:
Originally scheduled for next week, Chamber staff felt compelled to change the date…we didn’t do it in a vacuum either – we consulted local physicians. They wholeheartedly agreed…so the date is moved from January 27 to March 31. All tickets will move forward. We also moved the Chamber’s annual fundraiser celebration and auction too…now the week of April 8-14 and still at PrimeTime Grille. A huge thanks to Ottawa University, this year’s banquet sponsor, and PrimeTime for facilitating the changes and helping us through this…all our lives require much flexibility now. Could be why it’s not boring! We will keep everyone posted on this – Chamber Ambassadors will continue to collect auction items. We have had many awesome items donated…the changed date allows them to continue to work getting more items. Good news is you can still make reservations for dinner at OU on March 31 and receive a $25.00 gift certificate to PrimeTime Grille/Fusion Alley. Sorry for any inconvenience…best to be safe right now.
First Legislative Coffee in 2022:
Another change…although not as big – the first legislative coffee scheduled for this Saturday, January 22, is not cancelled, but moved. Every year during the Kansas Legislative Session, the Chamber holds legislative coffees monthly to allow local citizens direct access to their elected officials. Usually held in the commission chambers in City Hall…this time it will be in Ottawa Memorial Auditorium to facilitate being able to spread further apart. The questions and answers will still be from 10:00-11:00 that morning…just a different location. And as always the event can be viewed on Facebook Live. While in progress it will be on the City’s Facebook page…once over, you can find it on the Chamber’s Facebook page too. If you feel uncomfortable attending, and have a burning question for our legislators, you can email your question here
Redistricting Discussions:
Redistricting is a decennial event which happens all across the nation once the census has been completely tallied…all voting districts must be squared to the number of voters which they represent. The Kansas Legislature begins this process which once approved by them moves on to the governor. Many remember in 2012 the legislature and governor could not come to a consensus, so it went to the courts to make the decision. This week, the negotiations began between the two major parties, Repubs and Dems, on voting lines for Kansas’ Congressional districts. There were several plans put forward…here are the suggested changes from the House…and here are the Senates versions. Yesterday, the Ad Astra Plan, suggested by the leadership in both the House and the Senate, was debated and tentatively approved by the Senate with a few minor changes (expected to pass formally today). Normally not too interesting to follow, but I call it to your attention now because in several of the new map versions, Franklin County is “in play”. We’ve long been in Congressional District 2 represented currently by Jacob LaTurner, Republican from Fort Scott. With shifts in population, the suggestion is being considered to move Franklin County to be paired with the major metropolitan county of Johnson, semi-urban Miami and the rural county of Anderson. Now it goes to the House. The term describing all this is gerrymandering…which is defined as the majority party drawing lines favorable to elect their candidates. The reason it is happening here is to put pressure on Kansas’ only Democrat Representative, Sharice Davids, Democrat representing Johnson and Wyandotte County, to move her to a more “Republican friendly” population. It’s all politics!!
Of course the reason for all the changes in dates and times is the (seemingly now) perennial COVID. The disease spread is at an all-time high right now and hospitals are in a dire state. Everyone is being encouraged to protect themselves and take precautions. Currently in Franklin County there are over 650 active cases, and our positivity rate is running around 35 percent…both of these numbers are at a peak not reached before since the beginning of the pandemic (here is this week’s update). Potentially good news on the horizon…the CDC reported yesterday the major metropolitan cities have peaked and the spread is now slowing. This information is garnered by testing the wastewater of large populations…this bodes well for the Midwest. We will inevitably follow suit but must be vigilant for at least 45-days. Hopefully spring will bring warm weather and positive trends in the pandemic. I found this chart this week which delineates the differences in symptoms between COVID, a Cold, Flu, and Allergies – hope it is helpful.     
Historic Post Office:
I always enjoy sharing when one of our members, and also Ottawa, is recognized with national attention. This week the Historic Post Office (HPO) event facility was named as the 2022 winner of the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards. WeddingWire is a leading vendor marketplace…this is a very prestigious award. You can read the complete news release here. To award these distinguished wedding professionals, WeddingWire analyzes views within its vendor directory across more than 20 service categories – from venues and caterers to florists and photographers – to find the most- and highest-rated vendors of the year. The winners exhibit superior professionalism, responsiveness, service and quality when interacting with the millions of couples who turn to WeddingWire to help with their wedding planning process each month. Many know and recognize Brooke Arellano who is the venue coordinator and active on several Chamber committees…good job to Brooke and all the HPO team to be recognized for this national honor!!
Leadership Franklin County (LFC):
LFC resumed classes following the holidays by bringing in a familiar face and recognized regional motivational speaker, Steven Iwersen. Many remember Steven when he lived in Ottawa a number of years ago and was active in our Chamber (here are a couple pictures). His topic to LFC…being Champions in the Chaos! Seems like an appropriate title considering the chaos we are all living in. Steven told class participants your leadership role places them at the epicenter of change…the challenges will inevitably include disruptions, competition, quarantines and even complacency. How you lead through the chaos of these disruptions determines the effectiveness of your influence and the potential of your business or organization. He said, “we’re living in a time that is like laying track in front of a moving train!”  Good analogy!! Welcome back to Ottawa Steven and thanks for your impactful message to our local leaders in training!!
Cherry and I began the year with a remodel project…ugh!! Here are a few pictures of the tear-down of our master bathroom. Chamber member, Dream Kitchens is doing the refurbish…these projects inevitably get bigger and more complicated as they progress…but here we go!
Chiefs play on…this Sunday, Buffalo will be a worthy opponent. Any team we play in the AFC from here on out has already beaten us this season…game on!! GO CHIEFS!!
Talk to you next week…
Onward ~ John 
John Coen
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce