WRITER: Dylan Lysen

Lawrence farmer, meat distributor create online grocery store to offer local produce and delivery

As official stay-at-home orders began last month and many organizations closed to the public to help slow the spread of COVID-19, Lawrence farmer Scott Thellman knew he needed to do something fast. Thellman, who owns and operates Juniper Hill Farms, has relied on the school districts and restaurants as loyal customers of his locally grown produce. But those have mostly closed or pared down their ...

Douglas County District Court brings in outside judge to preside over jail expansion lawsuit

The Douglas County District Court is bringing in an outside judge to preside over a lawsuit that aims to stop the expansion of the county jail. Chief Judge James McCabria said Thursday in an email to the Journal-World that the outside judge, James Fleetwood, was needed because the Douglas County judges had recused themselves from the case to avoid a conflict of interest. Although not all of the court’s ...

March health code inspections: No Douglas County organizations found out of compliance before state suspended inspections

No organizations in Douglas County failed health code inspections in March before the state suspended most of the operation midmonth because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, prior to the suspension, four Lawrence businesses that were found out of compliance in February received follow-up inspections and are now listed as in compliance. Heather Lansdowne, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of ...

Douglas County Commission approves first step of plan to consolidate rural fire departments; tax implications aren't yet clear

The Douglas County Commission has approved the first part of a plan to combine several rural fire departments into one large fire district. However, the taxing implications of the entire two-step plan won’t become clear until the commissioners finalize the entire plan in the coming months. On Wednesday, County Administrator Sarah Plinsky said that’s because there are many variables in the process, which ...

Douglas County Commission to consider finalizing first step of rural fire department consolidation plan

The Douglas County Commission on Wednesday will consider giving final approval to the first part of its plan to consolidate several rural fire stations into one new fire district. In early March, the commissioners gave initial approval of the proposal by authorizing a resolution outlining the first part of the plan, which is consolidating four rural fire departments — Clinton Township, Eudora Township, ...

Douglas County formally requests court to dismiss jail expansion lawsuit

Douglas County has formally asked the Douglas County District Court to throw out a lawsuit filed by a local activist group that would halt the planned expansion of the county’s jail. It also requested the court to expedite scheduling of the hearing on the matter to avoid delay on the construction project. The county announced in a news release Tuesday that its attorney John Bullock had filed its response to ...

Douglas County warned activist group of $3 million surety bond if it filed lawsuit challenging jail expansion

Prior to local activist group Justice Matters filing a lawsuit last month against Douglas County’s plan to expand its jail, an attorney for the county warned that he would pursue a $3 million surety bond from the group if it went through with the lawsuit. In response, William Skepnek, an attorney representing Justice Matters, wrote a letter calling the county’s tactic one of “edict, threat and ...

Homeschool parents share tips on educating students during remote learning period

As students of Lawrence public schools returned to education through remote learning last week, parents may have found themselves in a new position of needing to make sure their children are participating. Two Lawrence mothers who homeschool their children told the Journal-World that they understand educating children from home can be stressful and confusing for those who have never done it before, especially ...

Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence selects interim leader for permanent role

The Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence's new chief executive officer will be a longtime employee who served as the organization's interim leader for much of the past year. The organization announced Friday that it has hired Monica Dittmer as permanent CEO. She had served as the interim leader since July 2019, when former CEO Colby Wilson left the organization to take a position with the Boys & Girls Club of ...

Despite lifting moratorium, Douglas County has not received any applications to subdivide land under new codes

Although Douglas County recently lifted a monthslong pause on processing requests to subdivide land in the rural parts of the county, residents have not yet taken advantage of it. Tonya Voigt, the director of zoning for the county, said Friday that no applications have been submitted since a moratorium on processing the applications was lifted on March 22. The lack of requests could be because of the ...

Lawrence school board approves remote learning plan amid school closures for COVID-19 pandemic

Although school buildings are closed and Lawrence students are learning online from remote settings, Superintendent Anthony Lewis told the Lawrence school board that the school district is still working hard to provide an education to local children. “We want to make sure we are still able to give students as much of an academic benefit as if they were in our classrooms,” Lewis said. The Lawrence school ...

Douglas County will join initiative to help address chronic homelessness

Douglas County will soon begin crafting a tool to collect data on the local homeless community that will be used to fight chronic homelessness in the area. On Wednesday, the County Commission approved an agreement with Community Solutions to take part in the Built For Zero initiative. Community Solutions is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending homelessness. Although the local effort will be led by ...

Douglas County to consider participating in initiative to address chronic homelessness

Douglas County on Wednesday may take a step to begin tracking data on the local homeless population, with the goal of addressing chronic homelessness in the community. The County Commission will consider entering an agreement with Community Solutions, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending homelessness, during its regular meeting. The agreement would allow Douglas County, in partnership with the City of ...

Lawrence High School construction continues while schools are closed for COVID-19 pandemic

Construction at Lawrence High School continued as usual Monday as students began learning from home because of the coronavirus pandemic. Without students in the hallways of the large high school because of local and state health orders, the challenge of conducting construction during the school year has become less complicated, said Tony Barron, the school district’s executive director of facilities and ...

With remote education set to begin, Lawrence teachers and parents are wary but focused on making it work

As parents in the Lawrence school district wait to hear plans regarding the resumption of the school year through remote learning, some are wary of the loss of the social aspects of school, as students will be mostly learning from home. Meanwhile, teachers are concerned the new remote learning operation may be stressful for everyone involved, including teachers who are parents of students themselves. But no ...

Lawrence school board to consider reducing graduation requirements with switch to remote model

The Lawrence school board on Monday will consider reducing high school graduation requirements for the current school year to help seniors graduate on time amid school closures for the coronavirus pandemic. The school district currently has a requirement for high school students to earn 23 credits to graduate. But the board will consider reducing the requirement to 21 credits, the state’s statutory ...

Kansas task force issues guidelines for K-12 remote education plans, stresses learning won't stop with building closures

Kansas students will still keep doing school work — perhaps up to three hours of remote learning per day for older students — under guidelines being unveiled as part of the state's response to the COVID-19 virus. Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson stressed Thursday that Kansas students will continue to receive instruction this spring, after Gov. Laura Kelly ordered all school buildings closed for ...

Douglas County Commission orders most county facilities closed to the public

The Douglas County Commission ordered most of the county’s facilities to be closed to the public during its meeting on Wednesday amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. County Administrator Sarah Plinsky said the approved closure of facilities will bar the public from most of the county’s buildings, but county business will continue. Facilities will remain open only to county employees and “critical” ...

Douglas County pares down commission agenda, plans to select construction manager for crisis center

The Douglas County Commission will hold a pared-down meeting Wednesday after deferring several items originally scheduled to be taken up this week. One item that remains, however, is the commission’s consideration of selecting a construction manager at risk for its proposed behavioral health crisis center at the Treatment and Recovery Campus of Douglas County, part of which is currently under construction in ...

Bishop Seabury students return home from trip to Greece amid COVID-19 pandemic

A group of about 30 Bishop Seabury Academy students on an international trip returned to Lawrence on Sunday amid travel restrictions in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The group traveled to Greece last week for an educational spring break trip and had originally intended to head back to the United States on Tuesday. But the trip was cut short after President Donald Trump last week announced travel bans to ...