WRITER: Dylan Lysen

Go, See, Do | 'Driving While Black,' 'Polar Express' train rides, Holiday Bazaar and Throwback Thanksgiving

When composer Susan Kander approached Roberta Gumbel, a University of Kansas lecturer for voice and opera, to collaborate on a short musical production, she said she wanted to work on a serious and timely topic — one that hit close to home for Gumbel. “She called me and said, ‘I know what I want to write about: your concerns for your son, an African-American boy behind the wheel in this time,’” Gumbel ...

4 Lawrence playgrounds may be removed because of poor condition, low usage

Four playgrounds in Lawrence public parks could be removed in 2019 because of poor condition and low usage. Mark Hecker, assistant director of the City of Lawrence's Parks and Recreation Department, said the department conducted a citywide audit of the playgrounds and found four of 38 total playgrounds to be in poor condition and seldom used by the public. Hecker presented the audit report to the city’s ...

Library selects 3 food-themed books for 2019 Read Across Lawrence

After selecting one book for all ages in 2018, the Lawrence Public Library went back to selecting three books for the 2019 Read Across Lawrence program. “It’s a return to the norm,” said Kristin Soper, adult programming coordinator for the library. This year, the library selected “A Tangle of Knots” by Lisa Graff for kids, “The Doughnut Fix” by Jessie Janowitz for teens and “Sourdough” by ...

Family to move into 100th Lawrence Habitat for Humanity home early next year

When Autumn Hale recently went through a divorce, she and her five children “pretty much lost everything,” she said. But she and her kids were given an opportunity to get back on their feet, and back in a permanent home, after they were selected as the 100th Habitat for Humanity family to receive a newly built home. “It was a dream come true when we found out,” she said. After the divorce, Hale said ...

Dozens of wrecks reported as light snow causes slick roads in Lawrence area

A light snow Monday led to slick roads and dozens of car wrecks in Douglas County. A total of 40 car wrecks had been reported in the county as of 4 p.m., and four resulted in nonsevere injuries, said Officer Shawn Gross, a Lawrence Police Department spokesman. Audra Hennecke, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Topeka, said the Lawrence area was expected to receive about half an inch of snow ...

Teenager who took loaded handgun to Free State High School no longer enrolled

A Lawrence teenager who brought a loaded handgun to Free State High School in the spring is no longer a student in Lawrence Public Schools, the district confirmed Monday. But the district will not say if he was expelled or dropped out after the incident. “Due to student privacy rights, the district is unable to share or speculate as to why a student may no longer be enrolled in our schools,” said Julie ...

Go, See, Do | East Hill Singers, KU Theatre performance, Veterans Day Parade and Nerd Nite

How often have you seen a choir of prison inmates perform for the general public? That’s what Leigh Lynch, executive director of Arts in Prison, asked me when I called to discuss the East Hill Singers prison choir performance in Lawrence this weekend. “It’s a very unique opportunity because we have the privilege to take the inmates out into the community,” she said. The group, made up of 12 minimum ...

Teenager who took loaded handgun to Free State High School sentenced to 6 months of probation

A Lawrence teenager was sentenced to six months of probation Friday morning after he was convicted in September for bringing a loaded handgun to Free State High School in his backpack last spring. The 18-year-old was 17 when the incident occurred, and he was charged as a juvenile in Douglas County District Court. Juvenile Court Judge Bethany Roberts said she chose six months, instead of the maximum 12 months, ...

October health code inspections: 6 found out of compliance in Douglas County

Kansas inspection officials found health code violations at some downtown Lawrence food and drink establishments and two Greek Life institutions in Baldwin City during October. Additionally, two restaurants in Lawrence that were out of compliance for September returned to compliance in October inspections. Each month, I take a look at inspection results and list every place either listed out of compliance or ...

Lawrence receives about an inch of snow accumulation; temperatures to stay chilly

A little more than an inch of snow had accumulated in Lawrence late Thursday evening, said Matt Wolters, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Topeka. As of 10 p.m., 1.1 inches of snow had accumulated in south Lawrence, Wolters said. Other parts of northeast Kansas saw accumulations as high as 5 inches, he said. Flurries may continue Thursday night, Wolters said, but Douglas County won't see any ...

KTA opens westbound 'fast lanes' at East Topeka toll plaza

Lawrence drivers heading to Topeka on the turnpike will likely get to their destination a little faster after the Kansas Turnpike Authority upgraded the toll road. Rex Fleming, an engineer for KTA, said the organization on Wednesday opened both of the “fast lanes” for westbound traffic exiting the turnpike at the East Topeka toll plaza, which is at Mile 183 on I-70. The renovated toll plaza allows drivers ...

Report: FBI gives NCAA clearance to begin investigating some basketball programs in corruption scandal

The FBI has given the NCAA clearance to begin investigating possible code violations at universities related to the recent college basketball corruption trial, according to a Yahoo Sports report published Tuesday night. It's not yet clear which universities' basketball programs the NCAA would be able to investigate, but the University of Kansas had become a focus of the trial before it ended in late October in ...

More than 37,000 ballots cast in Douglas County by 3 p.m. on Election Day

Update: 3:50 p.m. Tuesday Many first-time voters cast their ballots at the University of Kansas’ Burge Union on Tuesday. A line of KU students stretched out the door of the conference room where ballot booths were set up for the students who live and are registered to vote on Daisy Hill. Tyler McLaughlin, an 18-year-old KU student from Maize, said he was excited to cast his first ballot. He said he wanted ...

Elementary students make their voices heard in Boys & Girls Club mock election

Even though their votes didn't count, hundreds of Lawrence elementary students were making their voices heard on Election Day. The members of the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence at local elementary schools cast mock ballots on Tuesday to participate in the Kansas Kids Vote activity and learn more about democracy. Prior to the election, the Boys & Girls Club educated the student members on voting with ...

'I knew I could fight and kill somebody if I had to': New show shares views of women veterans

When Lawrence resident Sherry Gill joined the U.S. Army in 1976, she said she was willing to kill if she needed to. But that’s not how the higher command originally saw her, or any woman, contributing to the armed forces when she was placed in the Women’s Army Corps. The WAC was a military unit that placed women in "gender appropriate" roles, according to the National Museum of the United States Army. “I ...

Douglas County consumers only have one ACA insurance option for 2019, but won't be fined for not enrolling

Douglas County residents looking to purchase health insurance through the federal marketplace will find they really only have one option for 2019. Through the Affordable Care Act, Kansas has two health insurance companies providing care to state residents, but one of those companies, Medica, will not consider Douglas County medical providers as in-network, said Brian Edie, a local insurance agent. Last year, ...

After theft caught on camera, lizard returned to Lawrence pet store in the middle of the night

Honestly, who steals a lizard? Allegedly, three out-of-county visitors to Pet World in Lawrence. Clearwater, a bearded dragon lizard who is rehabilitating at the pet store, was allegedly abducted by a woman and two accomplices who were recently eyeing the lizard for some time in the store, according to the store’s security camera footage. Sherry Emerson, owner of the store located at 711 W. 23rd St., No. ...

The use of political text messages increases in Kansas. But why?

With Election Day just around the corner, many residents in Douglas County have found they are receiving political messaging in a much more direct manner — through text messages. Shanna Shafer, an unaffiliated voter in Lawrence, said she has received several text messages from both political parties encouraging her to vote, sometimes for a certain candidate. While some have offered links to more information, ...

Go, See, Do | Blintz Brunch, Beers on the Kaw, "Elf the Musical," Nnedi Okorafor

In times of tragedy, great communities often find ways to come together to offer support to those who need it. Steve Hurst of the Lawrence Jewish Community Congregation said the Lawrence community will have the opportunity to do that on Sunday at the 55th annual Blintz Brunch. While the event is mainly a fundraiser for the congregation, Hurst said it’s also a good opportunity for the Lawrence community to ...

Girod: Universities, businesses need to work together to produce more Kansas workers

Kansas universities and local businesses need to work together to help meet one another's needs, University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod said Wednesday. As enrollment has dropped and tuition has increased at Kansas universities in recent years, businesses throughout the state have struggled with a worker shortage because not enough graduates possess the required skills, he said. “What we hear from you ...