Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
Welcome to July…2022 is now officially (as of midnight), half over!! We are closer to Christmas than we are from it…the 4th of July might be a good time to begin your holiday shopping!! It’s still sad regarding our local fireworks display…but completely unavoidable. The committee did everything correctly…and was even told directly our order was shipped. But in the end, our pyrotechnics fell subject to the post-COVID supply chain issues which are more common these days than we like. Looking forward to September 4 (Labor Day weekend) when we can have our fireworks celebration.
 
No fireworks at Forest Park will not diminish the celebration of our nation’s 246th birthday…hope you have something planned with family and friends for our midyear break to honor our independence and democracy. If not…just kick back and relax – not a bad way to spend a holiday.
 
Cornerstone Bookstore:
 
Our downtown Christian bookstore took a big step toward restoration this week. Remember a month or so ago when someone tried to back through the store…Harry North Construction crews worked this week to get the building back in shape (pictures here). But speaking of supply chain issues, Suffron Glass won’t receive the new front windows for several weeks…so while the structure is restored, the plywood covering for the windows remain. When Bruce and Joyce get the building back in shape, I’m sure they’ll host Chamber members for a coffee to come see the “induced” remodel!
 
AdventHealth New Pharmacy:
 
The hospital is getting close to moving into a new pharmacy…many don’t even know there is a pharmacy within the hospital (pictures here). It’s not open for the public to buy drugs but is there for patients’ supply of needed medication. Previously located in the basement in 3 separate locations, the new digs will be on the main level with state-of-the-art equipment… including the resources needed to compound the most complex of medications. AdventHealth Ottawa will now be able to produce locally all the drugs needed for chemotherapy among many other complex chemicals. The new facility will have the highest rating available for hospital pharmacies. Doug Rich, Chief Operating Officer, gave the board a tour this week…he told us this will be the last time we are able to enter this portion of the hospital. Once complete and operating, the space is a completely sterile environment…only the resident pharmacists have access to go in and out and as soon as they enter, must scrub, gown, glove and mask. There is no makeup allowed…it’s all very strict guidelines and rules. Locally we have 5 pharmacists on staff in the hospital. The board learned this week that Kayla Reece (formerly Watts – daughter of Suzanne and Buck Watts) has been hired to be the head pharmacist and department head. What great news to have a local homegrown person return to be in charge of the facility. Welcome home Kayla…we are glad you are here. This upgrade continues to make our hospital’s record of longstanding, first-rate community care! We are very fortunate here in Franklin County!!
 
Optimist Youth Golf Program:
 
The Optimists, again this year sponsored their annual Jr. Golf Program. Over 40 Franklin County youth aged 7–13 years old gathered every Monday through Thursday morning through the month of June to improve their golf game and stay active…7–10-year-olds golfed Monday and Wednesday; 11–13-year-olds golfed on Tuesday and Thursday. At the end of the 4-weeks, the Optimists conclude this program with a final tournament and lunch for the participants and their families (pictures here). In addition to Optimists volunteering, older students helped with the program and younger kids. Other community sponsors joining with the Optimists to provide this golfing experience include Great Life who provides the course and their facility, Subway donates the meal for the awards ceremony and tournament and Walmart donates supplies and awards. It was great to see all these kids and adults join together learning a lifetime sport…a big shoutout to all the Optimists, volunteers, and sponsors of this quality-of-life programming!!
 
Kevin Eichner:
 
June 30 was Chancellor (now Emeritus) Kevin Eichner’s last day at Ottawa University…having led the institution for the last 17-years. For the last year, the university has been in transition mode with Dr. Bill Tsutsui taking the helm a year ago today. Under Kevin’s leadership, our local liberal arts 4-year institution, restored and revitalized relations with the Ottawa Tribe and American Baptists; has a new organizational model; new buildings; a revitalized and refurbished Ottawa campus; an entirely new campus from the ground up in Arizona; new programs in new markets; tremendous growth in the quality and quantity of our athletic programs; and, a restored student body, locally with 800 students in town and living on campus. To be honest, I’ve only listed the highlights…there is so much more he accomplished, especially in reestablishing financial security and putting new systems in place. Bill has big shoes to fill…but I guarantee he is equal to the task. I’ve been so impressed with his guidance and leadership in this first year. Don’t take for granted, that here in Ottawa, we have first-rate education opportunities available (including our local public schools and NCCC) and a top-rated hospital. We are truly blessed!! 
 
Leadership Franklin County:
 
Today is the last day to get applications turned in for this year’s Leadership class…I visited with Donna Ferguson, chair of the Leadership board, this morning…because of the holiday weekend, the board will not meet until next week to make the selections. So…that gives you the weekend to get an application submitted. You can access the applications here…it’s a fillable form so you can type it in and email it to us here. Leadership Franklin County has been producing local leaders for 37-years…with a really great track record. If you are unfamiliar with the program here is a description of the program and how it works. Don’t miss this opportunity…scholarships are available. 
 
This Week’s Mail:
 
We received a very uplifting letter in at the Chamber office this week. When I opened the letter, a $50.00 bill slipped out! Now intrigued, the letter was a half-page of a typed letter that was signed. Apparently, 15 years ago (in 2007), the gentleman writing the letter was a teenager and served as a janitor here in the Chamber office. He described himself as troubled and rebellious youth who didn’t have much respect for anyone…he was already drinking and quickly becoming an alcoholic. When we have evening Chamber events, quite often we have wine or spirits leftover which we store in our back storeroom. Evidently this young man found it and would help himself while in the office cleaning. In 2013 however, God called him to serve and his life changed. Not too long after this, he was admitted to a seminary and is now a pastor at a church in Missouri. He further explains he has been so blessed and feels compelled to pay for the alcohol he drank while working here. Every now and then someone restores your faith in people…I’ve seen so many things through the years, I’m rarely surprised when I hear a disturbing or disappointing story about what someone did or does. But occasionally, someone does surprise me with a very positive and inspirational action…this is definitely one of these instances!
 
I hope you have a great Independence weekend!! Cherry and I don’t have much planned…I’m sure we’ll get together with some family and at least enjoy some homemade ice cream!! Looking forward to some relaxation…I just started a book on Dwight D. Eisenhower. Very fascinating…hopefully I have time to just sit and read for a while!!
 
Talk to you next week…be safe with your firecrackers!
 
Onward ~ John 
 
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-100