Dear Chamber Supporters:
Many are hurting and all are sad as we continue to learn the story and timeline of the events which unfolded in Robb Elementary School at Uvalde, Texas on May 24. Our hearts and prayers go out to the Texas community…not that different than our own. Since January 1 of this year (2022), there have been 27 school shootings and 228 mass shootings (four or more victims) in the US. Because of our differences over guns, we find ourselves in gridlock and nothing changes. My prayer is that calmer minds can set politics aside and work on real solutions which involve expanded mental health services, responsible gun storage, better gun safety education, more extensive licensure, training and background checks. We simply must begin somewhere…we have a moral obligation to try – and succeed!
Bike Across Kansas (BAK):
Two weeks from today, on Friday, June 17, bicyclists will be spending the night in Ottawa. Mostly from Kansas, but in total 28 different states will be represented by riders in the journey from Colorado to Missouri. As of May 30, here is a breakdown of who will be in our community:
  • Participants = 590
  • Full-time participants = 93%
  • Part-time participants = 7%
  • Male = 57%
  • Age range = 13 – 80 years
  • Adults = 68%
  • Seniors = 29%
  • Juniors (17 or younger) = 3%
  • Repeat Participants = 60%
  • First Time Participants = 40%
  • States represented = 28
  • Kansas = 365 participants
  • Other states = 225 participants
  • Counties in Kansas represented = 54
  • Cities in Kansas represented = 111
  • Vegan = 10
  • Vegetarian = 20
  • Sleeping Preference:
  • Tent = 376
  • Gym = 167
  • Motel = 47
Professions represented:
  • Attorney, judge, legal assist. = 14
  • Banker, loan officer = 3
  • Clergy = 2
  • Construction = 5
  • Educator: teacher, professor, superintendent, principal = 49
  • Electrician = 2
  • Engineer, architect, construction = 34
  • Entrepreneur/Business Owner/Self Employed = 9
  • Finance/Accountant/CPA = 10
  • Financial Advisor = 3
  • First Responder: police, sheriff, fireman, paramedic, EMT = 2
  • Healthcare: physician, PA, nurse, pharmacist, physical therapist, dentist, etc.= 25
  • Insurance = 6
  • IT = 6
  • Manager = 9
  • Military = 5
  • Real Estate = 4
  • Retired = 134
  • Salespersons = 11
  • Student = 12
Locally, here is what we have planned to welcome our guests Friday, June 17:
  • From 2:00-5:00 in the afternoon, Main Street will be closed from Second to Third Street and there will be live music performed by the band Silhouette 6.
  • Additionally, there will be games including a disc golf challenge and corn hole tournament in the street.
  • In the evening we are moving the party to Legacy Square for a Travis Marvin concert…there will be multiple food trucks on site with a variety of food options.
  • The next morning, OHS students, organized by the Culinary Arts students, will serve breakfast before the riders head to the Missouri border east of Louisburg.
Beginning west of Syracuse, Kansas on Friday, June 10, here is the route the participants will be following. Potentially, including support teams which accompany riders, there could be as many as 800 visitors spending the night in Ottawa…I hope you can come downtown and make our guests feel welcome! All the events are free…it will be a fantastic time and a great way to kick off summer!!
Hope House:
Hope House has been providing incredible services to our community for 33 years! A not-for-profit established in 1990 by the churches of Franklin County to meet the crisis or emergency needs of families and individuals who need a hand-up. Hope House provides help that many churches lack resources to undertake. Just a sampling of the services provided include a food pantry, utility assistance, gas vouchers, housing assistance, emergency aide, loans and much more. Since Hope House was founded, it was housed in the old Presbyterian church (and it was old and small) at Third and Walnut Streets. What remarkable news it was to learn they were able to purchase the former thrift store and also known as the old Pepsi Plant on Seventeenth Street and more than double their space to provide their essential services. Before the move, they were literally shoehorned into their former location. Their most recent project includes adding a shower where individuals can come and take a shower before acquiring fresh clothing.
This morning Co-Director Michelle Graf of Hope House welcomed Chamber members (pictures here) to see the remodeled facility and talk about how they are now able to provide expanded services with a bigger food pantry. The first basic and obvious fact is that the many volunteers which work at Hope House are the organizations greatest resource. Without their selfless service, this essential community organization could not function providing the high-level services currently offered. If you would like to volunteer or donate, go to the Hope House website and learn how to do so. Thanks to all the selfless community people who work and serve this organization!!
Kramer Drug:
In community news, Kramer Drug has once again changed ownership. Originally owned by George Kramer, George sold to Gene Milburn who owned the local downtown pharmacy for many years. In 2018, Gene sold the business to Robb and Meridith Rosenbaum who also owned a local drug store in Concordia, Kansas. Effective April 1, the Robbs sold the well-established and downtown anchor store to AuBurn Pharmacy (official website here) which now owns more than 30 pharmacies in multiple Kansas and Missouri locations…you can see all their locations on their webpage. AuBurn’s began originally in our neighbors just to the south, Garnett, by Michael Burns. Mike partnered with his good friend Steve Auten and the partnership was born. I visited with their corporate office, still in Garnett, this week and no decision has been made yet as to whether the name will be changed or remain Kramer’s. Regardless, AuBurns will be a good community partner. They specialize in rural communities…welcome to Ottawa!! We’re glad you’re here.
Senator Roger Marshall:
Senator Roger Marshall’s staff visited Ottawa this week…they stopped by the Chamber office to hear what’s going on in Ottawa and also to learn what our biggest challenges are locally. They visited at the Chamber for about an hour. Additionally, while in town, they toured the hospital…here is their picture while at the Chamber. We always appreciate our Kansas representatives who represent us in Washington D.C. stopping in to get updates. It is also good to learn their challenges they face in the Capitol. Democracy is not easy…but as they say – it sure beats the alternatives!
Family Reunion:
My family all gathered in Omaha, Nebraska over the Memorial Day Holiday weekend to catch up with each other’s families and just unwind. It took 3 large cabins at the Eugene T. Mahoney State Park to house all 51 of us. Also on the agenda was to celebrate my sister, brother plus Cherry’s and my 40th wedding anniversaries (here are a few pictures)…we were all married in 1982. All the grandkids had fun getting to know their extended cousins too…currently there are 21 kids at the age of 9 and under (few random pictures here). It was a relaxing time…but also at times wild with all the kids!!
Glad it was a short workweek…it will take this weekend to fully recoup. Also to mow the lawn…now with 5.0+ inches in the last week it grows fast!!
Talk to you next week…
Onward ~ John
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce