WRITER: Dylan Lysen

Douglas County Commission to discuss buying out properties in flood-prone areas

Updated at 10:23 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4 There may be more Douglas County residents living in flood-prone areas than once thought, and the county's leaders will soon consider whether to buy some of those residents’ homes to allow them to move to safer areas. The Douglas County Commission on Wednesday will discuss the possibility of buying out properties or changing floodplain maps in flood-prone areas around ...

After wowing contest judges, Lawrence boy to play piano with KC classical musical ensemble

When Matthew Liu, a Lawrence pianist, competed in the Midwest Chamber Ensemble’s youth concerto competition in the spring, he said he wasn’t nervous because he had performed in other competitions several times before. However, this time was different. He was an 11-year-old competing with musicians up to the age of 18, said Jessica Koebbe, director of the competition. “After hearing him perform and ...

Football is the top cause of concussions in Kansas high school athletics, report shows

In Kansas high school athletics, football was the cause of almost half of the reported concussions student athletes suffered last year, and those who played were almost twice as likely to suffer the brain injury than athletes in other sports. But Dr. Michael Rippee, a sports neurologist for the University of Kansas Health System, told the Journal-World he's not ready to lead athletes away from the ...

Lawrence school district offering internet hotspots to high school students who don't have access at home

When students don’t have access to the internet at home, they can be at a distinct disadvantage to their peers. That’s why the Lawrence school district recently expanded its effort to provide internet hotspots that students can take home for personal use, said Julie Boyle, a spokeswoman for the school district. In recent years, the district has offered a limited number of internet hotspots — known as ...

Man injured in single-vehicle wreck in North Lawrence

A man was severely injured in a single-vehicle wreck in North Lawrence Friday afternoon. The wreck on North Third Street happened at about 3:20 p.m., Jenn Hethcoat, a spokeswoman for the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, said in an email to the Journal-World. At the scene of the wreck, a Journal-World reporter saw a wrecked truck on the property of Advantage Metals Recycling, 1545 N. Third St. According to ...

LHS choir program to hold mattress sale to raise funds for spring trip to Tennessee

Members of Lawrence High School’s choir want local residents to get a good night's sleep — and they want to raise some money in the process. The program will host a one-day mattress sale in September, with 30 mattress models on display for the public to try out and purchase. The sale has the added benefit of helping fund part of the choir’s planned trip to Memphis and Nashville next spring, said Dwayne ...

Douglas County Commission approves program to offer tax relief for homes damaged in May tornado

Some Douglas County residents whose homes were damaged during the May 28 tornado will receive tax relief from the county government. The Douglas County Commission on Wednesday approved the creation of a program that gives County Appraiser Steven Miles the ongoing authority to process and approve applications for tax abatements to those residents. The program is slightly different from what the commission was ...

Douglas County Commission to consider $30,000 in tax relief to property damaged by May tornado

Douglas County residents whose property was damaged during the May 28 tornado may soon receive some tax relief from the county government. The County Commission on Wednesday will consider approving a total of $30,000 in tax abatements for 17 county properties affected by the tornado. The abatements, which are property tax reductions, vary for each property based on the amount of their assessed damage. County ...

Douglas County Commission still waiting for contract to be completed for incoming leader

Although Douglas County commissioners have found who they want to serve as the next county administrator, the process to fill the position isn't yet finished. Douglas County Commission Chair Michelle Derusseau told the Journal-World Monday that contract negotiations are still underway with interim County Administrator Sarah Plinsky. Commissioners last week selected Plinsky to fill the role of county ...

Federal tariffs, severe weather leading to 'tough year' for Kansas farmers

The farming season troubles for Jimmy Neis began in the early spring. The soil on his farm, Neis Brothers Farms just south of Eudora, was so wet that he had to slightly delay planting his corn until mid-April, he said. Then severe storms came in May. “It rained for several weeks and it drowned a lot of that early corn out,” Neis said, noting that he replanted corn in June that has not been harvested yet, ...

Court denies 'stand your ground' self-defense claim in 2018 double shooting in central Lawrence

The attorney for a Lawrence man accused of a double shooting argued in Douglas County District Court on Friday that his client should not face attempted murder charges because he was only trying to defend himself. But Judge James McCabria rejected that claim, ruling that the attorney did not present enough evidence to back it. In a motion, attorney Gary Conwell said his client, Tommy J. May, 59, should receive ...

$3.2M grant will help KU researchers create new program for students with learning disabilities

University of Kansas researchers want to develop new ways for children with learning disabilities to visualize and achieve their goals — and they now have several million dollars in grant funding to help them out. The $3.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will allow the KU team to create a new education program that prepares students with learning disabilities to transition from high ...

Douglas County Commission approves six-month halt on applications to subdivide rural land

Rural residents of Douglas County who want to divide their land into residential lots may have to wait half a year before they can get that process started. The Douglas County Commission on Wednesday unanimously approved a six-month moratorium on the county’s processing of applications for certificates of survey outside of the county’s urban growth area. Submitting an application is the first step in the ...

Douglas County Commission selects interim county administrator for permanent role

The Douglas County Commission will forgo a search to fill its vacant county administrator position and will instead appoint interim County Administrator Sarah Plinsky to the permanent position. At their meeting Wednesday, commissioners unanimously approved directing the county counselor to begin contract negotiations with Plinsky. Plinsky has been serving as the interim county administrator since December, ...

As students return to Lawrence High, 36 classrooms unavailable because of construction

Story updated at 5:19 p.m. Tuesday Students at Lawrence High School return from summer break this week but 36 classrooms in the building are not ready for use yet. Julie Boyle, a spokeswoman for the school district, said in an email to LHS families Monday evening that some classrooms in the building will not be available for use for the “first few weeks of school.” Those classrooms were part of the summer ...

Douglas County Commission to discuss filling county administrator position; may create moratorium on rural subdivisions

Douglas County commissioners on Wednesday will continue discussing their plans for hiring a new county administrator, but it's not yet clear what those plans are. The commission did not provide any background information on the subject in its meeting agenda, even though a majority of the commissioners said last week that they would support hiring interim county administrator Sarah Plinsky for the permanent ...

State recognizes West Middle School for civic engagement opportunities

Along with math, science, history and other important topics, Lawrence’s West Middle School aims to educate students on how to be active members of their local community, said Principal Brad Kempf. And now the school is being recognized for it. The Kansas State Department of Education’s Civic Advocacy Network, or CAN, recently announced in a news release that West Middle School is one of 10 state schools ...

'Shocking' increase of residential development in rural parts of Douglas County likely to bring code changes

The rural areas of the county are where the Douglas County community least wants development to occur, but the county's zoning regulations make it one of the easiest places to be developed, Karen Willey said. “The processes we have in place are absolutely turned on their heads, in terms of how easy or difficult that process is,” said Willey, who is a county appointee on the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning ...

Governor appoints Lawrence library director to Humanities Kansas board

A Lawrence resident has been selected to serve on the board of directors for a statewide organization. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly recently appointed Brad Allen to the board of directors for Humanities Kansas, according to a news release from the governor’s office. Allen is currently the director of the Lawrence Public Library, which he has led for the last seven years. Allen told the Journal-World that he was ...

Lawrence man to face trial on rape charge after woman, friends testify in court, reveal text messages

After a night of excessive drinking and her friends helping to get her to sleep at a Lawrence apartment in May 2018, a University of Kansas student woke up to find a man on top of her, she testified in Douglas County District Court on Thursday. Although she said she did not remember most of the night, she said she remembered getting up and going to another room of the apartment to find her best friend, which is ...