Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
This has been a busy, busy week at the Chamber!! Mostly getting ready for the Travis Marvin concert Friday evening and also being prepared to host our 800+ guests from Bike Across Kansas (BAK) the same day. Many community partners have come together to ensure Ottawa puts on a good time for all the bike riders and their support teams. Partners include City Administration and city crews, Ottawa Police Department, Ottawa High School and school administrators, the Culinary Arts classes at OHS, Ottawa University, and Franklin County…not to mention our many Chamber staff and volunteers whom we rely on so many times during the year to help put on events.
 
The Travis Marvin concert will happen because of several awesome community businesses and organizations who are willing to step up and sponsor the event…premier sponsors include Loyd Builders, Trendel Lumber, Aunt B’s Blossoms, Hayden Farm and Ranch, Cosentino’s Price Chopper, BCI Mechanical and the Ottawa Area Chamber. Additional sponsors include Kansas State Bank, Security 1st Title, Rock Creek of Ottawa, Edward Jones, Oak Star Bank of Ottawa, Ottawa Coop Association, and Country Financial – Carlson Agency…here is a flyer with all their logos displayed. When patronizing these local businesses, be sure to say a big thank you for helping bring this free concert to Ottawa – without them it would be impossible.
 
Downtown Friday afternoon from 2:00-5:00 there will be a block party…including games by ORC and the Disc Golf Club of Ottawa, live music provided by Silhouette 6, and a beer garden at Not Lost Brewery – just to name some of the activities. Many of our downtown businesses and restaurants from across the town have created specials just for the BAK riders (see participating businesses here). The BAK admin team will begin rolling into town at about 10:00 a.m. Friday to make ready at the high school…riders will begin trickling in about noon and continue until 4:00. Jeff Carroll, local business owner of Ottawa Bike and Trail has been traveling with the riders and providing mechanical support for breakdowns. He has sent several pictures from other towns on the route (click here). Jeff reports many smaller towns are overwhelmed with the numbers…we think (hope) we are ready. We have additionally warned our restaurants to provide extra wait staff for Friday.
 
The Travis Marvin concert will begin at 6:00 in the evening…there will be four food trucks at this event plus a beer garden – come hungry and thirsty. The entire community is welcome at all our planned events…plan on participating and helping to welcome our guests. Let’s let them know Ottawa is a fabulous community!! They will be mounting up and heading towards the Missouri border (full BAK route here) at 5:30 Saturday morning after enjoying a breakfast served by the Culinary Arts and other OHS students…this includes a full breakfast with a vegan option as well. If someone is an early riser, come enjoy breakfast at the high school to begin your day. Some of us will be pooped by noon on Saturday!! It’s going to be hot and we are all looking forward to hosting Bike Across Kansas participants!!
 
Sad News:
 
This is unfortunate news…last week Tiffany Evans, co-chair of the Chautauqua Festival woke to find an overnight email from our community fireworks distributor. Sadly, our 2022 fireworks order didn’t make it to the United States from China in time for our 4th of July fireworks display. Here is a video of Tiffany with the full story…breaking the bad news to everyone. The committee had to make a hard decision…cancel completely – tough to do with as many local supporters who have contributed to this year’s anticipated display; or postpone. The committee chose the latter and decided to hold the big display on Sunday (September 4) of Labor Day weekend. On a positive note…it will be cooler, dusk is earlier and it gives us something in which to look forward to at Labor Day. We are all sorry for this inconvenience…it is regrettable. But, we are learning many communities are being faced with the same decision as Ottawa. A big thanks to the committee for all your tough decisions and for carrying on in a bad situation. Make your July 4 plans with your family…it will still be a great holiday.
 
Chamber Blue:
 
We are getting closer to the role out for the BCBS of Kansas Chamber Blue program…this will be an opportunity for a Chamber business to join with over 40 other community Chambers (and this number is continuing to get larger) to create a large group for health insurance purposes. When you consider the membership of all these Chambers, it will create big numbers…this is big buying power and will create great rates. Potentially it’s a chance for your business to save on health insurance costs. Here is how it works:
  • Participate in the interest survey during August.
  • You do not have to be a current Chamber member to participate in the survey…however you will be required to be a member of the Ottawa Chamber by enrollment in order to participate in the plan.
  • Must have 70 percent of eligible employees enroll in the group plan and pay 25 percent of the lowest plan available.
  • It is advantageous to join in year one because BCBS will not require health histories in the first year and if you participate in the survey, you are guaranteed to be able to join the group at the quoted rates.
In September, anyone participating in the survey will be given the rates and plans available through the group…you are under no obligation to continue any further if you do not like the rates or plans. A BCBS representative will then contact you in October or November…ID cards and member materials will be distributed in December, and the plan effective on January 1, 2023. Here is a brochure describing this opportunity more completely. Contact us here at the Chamber if you would like additional information.
 
EconoLodge:
 
Here is another potentially exciting new development in south Ottawa. New planning director, Mike Hall has been leading, first the planning commission and now the City Commission through a few zoning changes…the reason – is we have never needed this type of zoning code prior to the most recent project brought to the Community Development office. Local contractor and investor, Josh Walker is considering purchasing the old EconoLodge at 2331 S. Cedar (next to I-35) (pictures here) and converting it into density housing (apartments) by repurposing the existing two-story motel building (i.e. EconoLodge) into 44 affordable workforce apartments (24 studio apartments and 20 one- and two-bedroom units). The City Commission and Planning Commission have been supportive of the change in zoning required to add a never-to-fore zoning code and this week gave approval to allow the motel to be converted. The project now has the green light to move forward…let’s hope this happens…apartments are really needed in our community.
 
Juneteenth:
 
This weekend, Juneteenth, officially named Juneteenth National Independence Day will be a national holiday for the first time…June 19 is the official day, but the holiday will be celebrated on Monday, June 20. It has long been celebrated in many communities…sometimes referred to as Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, Freedom Day and Black Independence Day. On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger led his troops into Galveston, Texas and the last enslaved African Americans were freed. During the Civil War time, news traveled slowly and this area was also resistant to freeing slaves…it took a full 2-months from the end of the war (April 9, 1865) to officially get all the slaves freed. While recognized and already known in many areas, a year ago, President Biden officially signed the National Juneteenth Independence Day into law…going forward we will always remember this day in history as the beginning of the end of a very dark time in our country’s history. I’m a believer we must remember and mark moments from our past…even when some are unpleasant to remember. Memories are not keys to the past…they are blueprints to doing better in the future. We must all be vigilant against tyranny and the wrong treatment of any people or person.
 
8-year-Old Birthday:
 
Our oldest granddaughter, Evelyn Bernice Flory, turned 8 on Thursday…Cherry and I took her, her brothers, babysitter and mom for ice cream at Maggie’s (pictures here)! It is unbelievable how fast they grow…just yesterday it seems she was born. We are having her official birthday party on Saturday this weekend.
 
This is going to be a fun weekend in Ottawa…I hope you have a chance to take part in some of the activities! See you in the downtown and at Legacy Square…
 
Onward ~ John 
 
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-100