Dear Chamber Supporters:
Almost on cue the weather cooled, school began, the school buses rolled, and the fall season began…at least unofficially. While I feel certain we will have more hot weather to bear yet this year, this week compared to last, seemed refreshing. Last Friday was a hot day, but by the time the Sons of Sterling took the stage at 6:30, there was a cool north breeze blowing through the pavilion at Legacy Square, spectators had found a shady spot and a cold drink and it was a lovely evening (pictures here). It’s always a little bit of a guess, but approximately 500 people came out to be entertained by Chad Caylor and his red dirt/Southern Rock band. Once again…thanks to our community sponsors (click here to see the complete list)…without their support it would be impossible to provide free concerts for everyone to enjoy! Be sure you thank and support them…each of them understands the importance of supporting and giving back to their community…we need to support them!!
In a rare occurrence this week, we had two ribbon cuttings for new businesses…the first was an afterhours at the new billiards hall at 111 N. Main Street. Lara Duty and Les Harris combined their love of pool to join together and partner to open the new facility just south of the river in the 100 block of Main Street. It was a rainy cool evening, but a good turn out to cut the ribbon and enjoy winding down after the day’s work (pictures here). Lara and Les are a couple of people who love to play pool and regretted there are not more opportunities in Ottawa for people to come together and enjoy the sport. They have really created a warm, family atmosphere which is welcoming to all. In addition to pool, there are darts, corn hole, and a variety of board games. It will be a great location to retreat to after a long day to relax and enjoy time with friends. They haven’t opened their kitchen yet, (except for tacos on Saturday) but plans are in the works to eventually serve food too. Be sure to stop in and thank them for being Chamber members and opening a store on Main Street! This is another great and unique addition to our already distinctive downtown!
You’ve heard me mention before the good fortune Franklin County received to have been accepted into both Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas Pathways to Healthier Living grant…first awarded in 2018 (click here to read more about the Pathways Grant). The concept of the grant is to ascertain specific “pathways” for our community to identify in order to raise people’s awareness of how to live healthier and then develop ways for it to happen. Locally, we identified a number of things on which to work to create change and awareness…broad topics include health in all policies, active lifestyles, healthier food choices, tobacco-free environments. Once we had identified these specific categories, we honed in to see what could be done to change people’s choices/habits to create a healthier environment in the entire community. Examples included providing funding for restaurants for new menus who are willing to add new, healthier choices or include calorie counts on menu choices, funds for new playground equipment, funds for sidewalks where there were none, a bike-share program at Ottawa University, and even refrigerated systems for stores and restaurants to add fresh fruits and vegetables (here is a more complete report). These examples are really just a few and the tip of the iceberg. In order to help leaders consider health when making policy decisions, BCBS provided funding for 20 Franklin County citizens to attend the Kansas Leadership Center to learn methods of how to create and steer these conversations. Last December, our group spent 3-days in Wichita…this week, the same group gathered to reconnect and discuss lessons learned and see if there are things we can work on together to make life healthier in Franklin County. Many topics were broached…the homeless population being one which drew much discussion. Bottom-line…change comes slow – but it doesn’t happen at all until people begin actually dialoguing the problems. This is positive work which will bear fruit for Franklin County for years to come…you don’t change issues this big or people’s habits overnight. The change is slow and subtle…but it does happen!!
Ottawa Bike and Trail:
Ottawa is lucky Jeff Carroll choose to establish his bicycle sales and service shop in Ottawa and on Main Street! He immediately dove in and involved himself in the greater community. This week, he added an absolutely beautiful addition to the back of his bike store…a Kansas mural. Click here to see the painting. And speaking of healthier lifestyles…this weekend, Jeff is hosting a Moonrise Bike Ride (click here to see more). The event is billed as a bikepacking and music adventure on the Flint Hills Trail which includes camping, biking, a music festival and food…what a great event for an end-of-summer excursion. This can be a great family event that all can enjoy. Thanks Jeff for all you are doing to improve the quality of life in Ottawa!!
Grub & Chug:
I mentioned two ribbon cuttings this week…the second was this morning. The new restaurant at 306 S. Main Street hosted Chamber members to introduce themselves, tell about their menu and do a ribbon cutting (pictures here). This is another great food choice for downtown…they feature fried chicken but also have great hamburgers. I especially like their bone-in wings!! Wendy Shultz along with her husband Scott own and manage the establishment. You can see their complete menu here…also place an online order. It is fantastic to have so many eating choices in our downtown…if I’m not mistaken there are now a total of 10 eating possibilities in the downtown alone. In the evenings, Not Lost Brewery also has food choices and at our ribbon cutting at OnCue earlier in the week, they eventually plan on adding food too. This is amazing when you consider where we’ve come from…even compared to just 10 years ago.
First Day of School:
I think all of Franklin County is back in school now…I know Ottawa High School is up and running. Cherry reports there are always hiccups, but things are really going pretty smooth. Most of our school-age grandkids are back in school now…with the exception of Cedar Vale which doesn’t begin until Monday. Here are pictures of four of the kids on their first day. Cherry’s birthday is this weekend…everyone is coming home this weekend to help celebrate. I’m sure to have pictures for next week!
Talk to you then…
Onward ~ John
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce