Dear Chamber Supporters:
Cherry and I broke down and finally planted our potatoes this week…on Tuesday evening, before the rain that night. Hopefully the weather begins acting more like spring on a consistent basis! Our jonquils, tulips and hyacinths are all up and blooming…the month of April gets its name from the Latin word aparire which means “to open”…just like flowers do in the spring. In Kansas, know the month more as a transition month from cold days to spring and the beginning of baseball, which by the way…it was good to watch the first baseball game this week. Opening day…the day all teams begin in first place with dreams of a pennant. Here’s hoping the Royals have at least a competitive and exciting season…one win – we are on our way!!
Rock Chalk!!:
Most know my inner fabric is purple, I bleed purple, and our family is all K-State fans…still a big shout-out this week to my friends who are just as loyal to the University of Kansas, winning their fourth national title last Monday evening. And, it was a very exciting game…I, like I think even the most ardent of fans, had pretty much written them off at half-time. I began reading my book but kept the game on in the background. As the second half continued, the gap narrowed and what a great and exciting finish!! Here are a few pictures from the internet for all KU fans to enjoy. This victory was so fantastic for our state and even our region, with Lawrence being so close. I couldn’t help but enjoy the party for a little while after the game before turning the television off. You absolutely don’t stand at the top of the heap very often in life…the look on all those kids’ faces was priceless as they are only beginning to absorb the magnitude of their win (it made me smile)…parade on Massachusetts street Sunday (April 10) beginning at 2:00 p.m. I’m sure Ottawa will be represented in the crowd. One last time…congrats KU, and “Rock Chalk”!!
Chamber Annual Auction:
Our biggest fundraiser of the year begins today…you can go to PrimeTime Grille/Fusion Alley to view the donated auction items…or you can go here to see pictures and actually bid. All bidding is electronic and as simple as making a free account online. All Chamber members who attended our annual award banquet last week received a $25.00 gift certificate to use at either PrimeTime or Fusion alley…we are hoping most choose this coming week to use their gift card and take time to view the items and make bids. We love everyone who participates…even if you aren’t the winning bid, it helps make the final bid higher. Also…you don’t have to be a Chamber member to participate…anyone can view the items online and look at the potential gifts, as well as create a free account to place bids. The same link as above can be found on the Chamber website or Facebook page. Once you have an account and make a bid, you will be notified if someone raises your offer, and you can make another bid from wherever you are located…with cell service.  As I mentioned, it begins today but runs through next Thursday (April 14). What a great chance to have a date night, or take the kids bowling, and bid on some very nice and fun items. Remember…bid high and bid often!!
Key Apparel:
Chamber member, Key Apparel, hosted members at a coffee in the Chamber office this morning. Originally scheduled for outside at Haley Park…the cool temps and snow shower caused for change in plans (here are a few pictures). Local Key representative, Seth Needham shared a few products, stories and talked about the company. The clothier’s sweet spot is outfitting your team with your company’s logoed apparel which is comfortable and long-lasting…he provided a free t-shirt to everyone in attendance this morning. The company has been in business since 1908 and is a Kansas business, having been founded in Fort Scott, Kansas and still located there today. He said things are going well for Key…up twenty-five percent in quarter 4 of 2021 and up about fifty percent in the first quarter of 2022. Also, recently announced, going forward, Key Apparel is the official clothier of the FFA organization. Originally created to make strong durable workwear for farmers working on the Great Plains, they use a strong denim which is durable and strongly connected by adding a triple-stitch on the seams…when I was a boy, most farmers of the older generation wore Key bib overalls – usually with a checkbook, pen, and wallet in the top bib pockets. I had a few pairs myself. We really appreciate Key being a part of our local community and joining our Chamber. If you are interested in buying company workwear, you can call Seth at 620.223.2000.
BCBS Chamber Blue Health Insurance:
I want to remind everyone again about this new health insurance program available only to Chamber members. For the first time, because of a change in state laws in recent years, the Ottawa Chamber is able to offer our Chamber members, a health insurance group plan which can be provided/offered to your employees. The Ottawa Chamber is a member of the Chamber of Commerce Executives of Kansas (CCEKS)…an organization of over 30 Chambers of Commerce in towns across Kansas. CCEKS has partnered with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas to create Chamber Blue of Kansas, a large group for health insurance purposes, of Kansas Chamber members (list of Kansas Chamber currently considering participating).  If you are providing (or might consider) offering insurance to your employees, you should be interested in reviewing this new product. Chamber Blue is group medical health insurance for Kansas Chambers that allows Kansas businesses to access the health insurance savings associated with large group medical coverage…hopefully resulting in lower price quotes of medical insurance plans. We can offer this new product to Ottawa Chamber members only!!
This new insurance option is being rolled out now and will begin coverage in January 2023. If you have even a passing interest I encourage you to get more information…to be eligible for the original rates which will be offered, you must complete the BCBS information form (click here to get started). This in no way obligates you…it only allows your employees to be considered as part of the original group for assessing rates. If after the original surveys are complete and the rates are quoted, you determine this is not for you…you don’t need to go any further. For additional information, you can also contact the Chamber (785.242.1000) or call BCBS of Kansas directly…here are contacts and numbers.  
Week Ahead:
 I’m leaving early Monday morning to fly to Washington D.C. to participate in the National Association of Workforce Boards…it is a huge conference with attenders from all over the nation. The conference ends Wednesday and I’m taking a few days to relax and sightsee in D.C. I always greatly enjoy the sights and history of our Capitol City…I will be sure to take a few pictures for next week. I expect Sherri and Ryland will be sharing some of the local events in this same space, including next week’s Chamber coffee and updates regarding the auction which will be going on all week. 
You remember last weekend, we went to Cedar Vale to visit the Champlin family and see grandkids (here are a few pictures). Max (7-years old) and his dad Marc were actually gone the whole weekend on a father/son fishing expedition. Here are some pictures of his big catches…needless to say, he was awe-struck!! For our part, Cherry and I enjoyed time with our daughter and the 3 younger kids…they are always such sweethearts – especially Johnnie who is already 5-months old and changing so fast…as children do in their first year.
Talk to you next week from D.C…
Onward ~ John 
John Coen
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce