Dear Chamber Supporters:


With September comes the beginning of all our community’s biggest events…this weekend the Power of the Past, this year featuring Farmall/International Harvesters, but expecting hundreds of tractors of all makes and models along with and many vendors and exhibits. Here is a list of all the events for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It’s on to the car show next weekend with what is easily the very biggest event in Ottawa annually. The fourth weekend is the Bad Astra 100-mile bike race which begins and ends at Legacy Square. In addition to these there are 4 events scheduled for Legacy Square…the AdventHealth Legacy celebration on September 22, the 2002 Ottawa high school class reunion, the Joe Riggin’s memorial/community picnic hosted by The Blessing Box Foundation, and Ladies’ Night Out the first week of October. It shouldn’t be hard to find something to do for the next month…not to mention all the school sporting events! It’s beginning to wear me out thinking about it.


Fr. Co. Farm Bureau Legislative Farm Tour:


I once again attended the annual local Farm Bureau farm tour this week…which I think provides much value (pictures here) in education and comradery between citizens and elected officials. Realizing most elected officials today are not going to have an agricultural background, the Franklin County Farm Bureau (FB) recognizes the importance of educating elected officials at all levels of government regarding what it takes to feed, clothe, and power a nation. On Tuesday this week, FB hosted local City, County, and State elected officials at Pome on the Range.  This event not only allows discussion and learning about various forms of agriculture….but also allows for an exchange between elected officials and agriculturalists to hear some of the frustrations and challenges experienced in agriculture today.  In return, ranchers and farmers listen to the elected for some of the tribulations faced in governing in an evolving world. US House Representative Sharice Davids attended the event…with redistricting, if re-elected, would become our new representative to Congress. Representative Jake LaTurner’s District 2 now surrounds us, but no longer includes Miami and Franklin Counties. It’s challenging too, every 10 years, to realign voting districts to maintain the equal voting requirements required in the US Constitution…as a result, Fr. Co. is now partnered with parts of Johnson, Douglas, and Miami to comprise District 3. Not necessarily all similar in nature…but our voting partners, as it were, to select a Congressional representative from the 3rd District.  


Also in attendance were 4 of the 5 County Commissioners, Roy Dunn, Don Stottlemire, Ianne Dickinson and Rod Harris. Sherriff Jeff Richards also participated along with Paul Bean, Franklin County Development Director and me. Both our local State Senators, Jerry Moran and Roger Marshal were represented by their staff indicating they realize the importance of the event, but acknowledged the heavy requirements of their schedule. All guests were given the chance to tell their perspectives on supporting local agriculture and local Farm Bureau Board members described their challenges of providing food, fiber, and power. Many state-level FB officials attended as well…including State FB President, Richard Felts and the local district director, George Pretz. The highlight of the evening was hearing from Josh Herbert the new owner of Pome on the Range, about the challenges and rewards of managing an apple orchard. Josh owns the Louisburg Cider Mill and this last winter, purchased the Pome on the Range orchard. I don’t think any of the 50 attenders realized what it takes to grow and produce apples. The farm has over 3,000 apple trees representing 30 different varieties. Their offerings also include pumpkins, tomatoes, okra and other vegetables in season. What a great business that continues to prosper in south Fr. Co. My estimation is, everyone learned a lot and gained respect for the requirements of each other’s role in providing food and governing. I view this farm tour as one of the most significant annual events I participate in…visiting casually, breaking bread and discussing life situations of an evolving world between agriculturists and politicians. It would be nice to think every county in the country did this…but I know they don’t. I truly believe we get it and do it right here in the Midwest!!


Kansas Apprenticeship Program:


The more things change, the more they stay the same…for the last number of years, it has been considered best practice for our workforce to become educated by attending college or vocational education classes. Now we are beginning to realize the value of apprenticeships which use to be commonplace in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Young workers learning skills passed from a master who has worked a lifetime to learn the tricks of the trade. This week, Kansas formally acknowledged the value of this form of training by announcing a new position in Kansas government…on Labor Day, Governor Laura Kelly signed Executive Order #22-07 establishing the Office of Registered Apprenticeship within the Kansas Department of Commerce. The Office will dramatically scale up the Kelly Administration’s efforts to meet the talent needs of Kansas businesses, give workers the skills and experience they need to compete in the modern economy and knock down barriers to employment. On-the-job training has always been a valuable way to learn a talent…you can read it in a book, but it’s all different when you go to apply it. When an experienced electrician, plumber, or carpenter shows you how to do something and then mentors you…it’s a learned skill!! The complete news release here


Ottawa University (OU) Received Grant:


OU announced this week good news of receiving the Humphry’s Trust Grant which will be added to funds raised in their Advancing the Experience Campaign…this ongoing campaign has raised $8 million to improve facilities at our local university (full release here). The funds from the Humphry Trust fund will specifically go to a complete makeover of the Mabee indoor sports facility. Earlier this year, the new Braves Athletic Performance Center (BAPC) opened providing first-rate training facilities for weight and bodybuilding performance. The existing Mabee Center is just to the south of the new BAPC and has become particularly antiquated for athletes and their training needs today. With the addition of these funds, work will begin on the new Mabee Center in the spring of 2023. As the student population continues to grow (now over 800 students), providing proper and upgraded facilities is imperative. We really appreciate the work of the Advancement Department headed by Janet Peters, the team now includes Wynndee Lee. Their efforts allow our local institution to continue to grow and improve.


Kramer Pharmacy:


Earlier this year I informed Chamber members of the change in ownership of the Kramer Pharmacy…Kramer’s is an old and longstanding fixture in downtown Ottawa. This morning, Mike Burns, the new owner, was in town and hosted Chamber members for coffee (pictures here). He was introduced to local citizens and told a little about himself and his business model. Mike is owner of Auburn Pharmacies which now owns over 30 locations…mostly in Kansas, but a few on the Missouri side. He’s created a niche market for hometown pharmacies in smaller communities. He bought his first pharmacy in Garnett at the urgings of George and Shirley Kramer here in Ottawa who he had  known for years. He was particularly glad he now has the opportunity to continue their legacy in this community. He still hasn’t decided whether to change the name to Auburn’s or leave it Kramer’s. For now everything is working just fine…so no immediate plans for a rebrand. Welcome to Ottawa Mike and your team…we are glad you see value in our downtown and your help keeping it vibrant.  


Labor Day Wrap-up:

The Chautauqua fireworks were awesome (pictures here)…a big thanks to Tim Van Leiden and Tiffany Evans and their whole committee and volunteers for the work they do to provide this display for the community. It takes a herculean effort to stage this display…an all-day affair, to set up the mortar tubes, load the fireworks and then shoot them off…and then tear it all down. And this is on top of fundraising for the entire year. We are lucky to have such committed citizens who do this on behalf of Ottawa. I know locally, many were disappointed to not have the fireworks show on July 4th…it was an unavoidable transportation/supply issue. After last Sunday, many on social media commented: best show ever; we should do this every year on Labor Day; unbelievable 30-minute display!  


Our family went in multiple directions last weekend. The Florys were showing hogs in Oklahoma and the Champlins were riding rodeo in Cedar Vale (pictures here)…the rest of us were tuned into K-State football and the family tailgate.(they won handily by the way!) (gameday pictures here).  

I’m a little sad at the passing of Queen Elizabeth. I think most Americans don’t quite get the monarchy…but she truly embodied the title “Her Majesty”!! The definition of the word is regal, lofty or stately dignity. These are all terms I think of when I think of her and how she carried herself on the world stage for 70-years…and did it in a time when few others embrace these traits. Her gracious manner will be missed.  


Looking forward to another KSU home game and the first Chiefs game Sunday. You might have noticed there was a lot of red at the Chamber coffee this morning…red all over town!! Everyone is ready for another big season!  


Talk to you next week…


Onward ~ John  


Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce

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