Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
It was another bountiful week for rainfall…I had nearly 3 inches. My family is traveling this weekend to a family reunion in Omaha…might have to get a brush mower to mow the lawn when we return. It does make our garden grow good too however!!
 
2022 Elections:
 
Not that there was ever any doubt, but the 2022 election is officially on now…the Kansas Supreme Court upheld the Kansas Legislature, and the Kansas House, Senate and Kansas Congressional maps are all official…these will be the maps until 2032. There is going to be change in our representation beginning in 2023…most notably, Franklin and Anderson Counties are now joined with all of Johnson and most of Wyandotte Counties (official map here) which is currently represented by Congresswoman Sherice Davids. Representative Jacob LaTurner’s district will extend some farther to the west and continue to go to the north border of Kansas. Also, half of Franklin County will now be in Kansas Senate District 3…formerly in 12, represented by Senator Caryn Tyson, the north half will now be represented by current incumbent Senator Rick Kloos, whom I am yet to meet (new Kansas Senate Districts).
 
Here is another big change…and really a bit of a shocker!! Our hometown representative, Blaine Finch (also the current Speaker Pro Tem) announced he is not running for a sixth term…so, Franklin County, minus the Wellsville township, will be represented by someone new (here is the new map). Blaine has done a great job as an Ottawa Leader in Topeka representing our interests and at the same time being a great Kansas Statesman! I can’t say enough good things about the work he’s accomplished, suffice to say, he is still young and will do more good…and he deserves a break from Topeka! Having lived in that world, I can affirm, it can be a literal zoo!!
 
Bottom line…we will have a new Senator, new Representative and a new Congress representative – guaranteed. It’s rare for this much change all at once, and usually when it happens, it’s due to redistricting. Some will find this interesting…older folks (I resemble this designation) will remember when we were formerly with Johnson County and represented by Democrat Congressman Larry Winn. Here are the Kansas congressional district maps back to the 1970’s. So, I guess it remains consistent that what goes around comes around…and history does repeat itself!
 
Flea, Junk, & Trunk Craft Show:
 
The 2022 Chamber Flea, Junk & Trunk Craft show can officially be classified as a huge success!! It turned out to be a beautiful day last Saturday to welcome visitors to Ottawa’s downtown. Sixty vendors offered for sale everything from antiques and homemade pottery to plants, paintings and original creations (a few pictures here). The morning began with rain and a cold north wind…the day was foreboding the wrong way. But by the time 9:00 rolled around, the sun was out and the temps warmed. The wind continued but was not a deterrent to shoppers. Also…downtown retail was a buzz too. I went to most stores Saturday morning and owners were reporting good sales. Good retail sales are what our main objective is!! Buyer traffic was steady all day…and Cherry and I found a few interesting items to purchase too. It is always a fun time to see downtown bustling and full… also to see all the interesting items at the annual F, J & T Craft Show!
 
Ottawa Future Farmers of America (FFA) :
 
 
Ottawa’s FFA program was resurrected back in the early 2000’s when the school board voted to reinstate the closed program from the 1950’s. I am honored to have been on the school board that made the vote to reinstate the program. Viewed as much today as a youth leadership program as it is to train future farmers…it also prepares the next generation to appreciate and be leaders in agriculture. In 2001, Blake Lasley was hired out of college to be the first teacher/advisor of the reinstated program…this spring, Blake announced he and his wife, Beth, are moving to her family farm in Norton, Kansas. This was news no one was expecting, but still…we let Blake and Beth leave with all our appreciation. He built the foundation for a great FFA program to go forward…20-years is a longtime commitment. Here are pictures of the surprise gathering Ottawa students, teachers and parents (both former and current) held for Blake at the Rod Harris ranch last weekend. Sad and sweet Blake…we only wish you and Beth the best!!
 
Lake Region RC&D:
 
Ryland, the Chamber’s Community Liaison, will provide information regarding this morning’s Ribbon Cutting…
 
Chamber members were blessed with perfect weather this morning at our Ribbon Cutting for the Lake Region Adopt-A-Bike Program’s new cargo container (pictures here). This program is made possible through a conglomerate of organizations including Lake Region Resource Conservation and Development Council (Lake Region RC&D), Lake Region Solid Waste Authority, Ellsworth Correctional Facility, and our Franklin County Government. Local Wellsville resident and Franklin County commissioner, Don Stottlemire (pictured here), is the President and Director of Lake Region RC&D who started the Adopt-A-Bike program in 1999. When he joined the commission he saw a real need for keeping bicycles out of landfills and over the 23 years of pursuing this mission he has been able to repurpose over 8,000 bicycles in the process… as well as putting 4,000 of these bicycles in the hands of kids who don’t have/cannot afford one! Bravo Don for all your work in our community, you make Ottawa and Franklin County a better place and for that we say thank you.
 
The Regional Coordinator for Lake Region Solid Waste Authority, Shay Hanysak (pictured here) informed the crowd on how bike adoption works. Starting with the collection of broken and unwanted bicycles in six counties (Anderson, Coffey, Franklin, Linn, Miami, and Osage) that are then are stored here locally at their 2017 S Elm St address… before further transportation to the Ellsworth Correctional Facility, where inmates work to strip the salvageable parts and reassembled them into sturdy, refurbished, functional bikes. With the grant funding from KDHE, the new cargo container that was christened this morning is where these fully functional bikes are stored, waiting to be adopted by those in participating counties. This program not only promotes environmental sustainability but also equips our youth with the means for positive recreational activities. Shay mentioned a great way for Chamber members to support this program is by spreading the word about bike availability, let’s make sure every youth has the opportunity to exercise and play in this way. Check out Lake Region Solid Waste Authority’s website here for more information and bike request forms!
 
Memorial Day Weekend:
 
This weekend, of course, is Memorial Day Weekend. It’s a weekend we particularly remember those who gave their lives in the service of our country…it is to honor the sacrifices of innumerable individuals who sacrificed themselves to preserve the freedoms all Americans enjoy. While Veterans Day honor all who served in the U.S. Armed Forces, it is right we honor those who have served on both holidays.
 
Typically, many families remember former loved ones who have passed…my grandmother always referred to the weekend as Decoration Weekend because of the tradition, on this weekend, of placing flowers on the graves of deceased family members.
 
I always view the 3-day holiday as the official beginning of summer…and Labor Day the end of summer. However you observe or celebrate Memorial Day, I hope it is stress-free and restful!!
 
Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John
 
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-100