WRITER: Rochelle Valverde

Lawrence City Commission approves incentives for manufacturer’s $5M expansion; 50 new jobs expected

The city will be providing a 10-year property tax break to a Lawrence manufacturer with plans to expand its operations and add dozens of jobs. Grandstand Glassware & Apparel is planning an approximately $5 million expansion at its East Hills Business Park location. At its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission voted unanimously to provide Grandstand a 50 percent property tax abatement for 10 years ...

Annual community Thanksgiving dinner and Santa rescue events to kick off holidays in Lawrence

The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes some of the city’s own local traditions. On Thursday, all are invited to partake in Lawrence’s community Thanksgiving dinner. The annual dinner will be served from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Thursday in the LINK dining room of the First Christian Church at 10th and Kentucky streets. Volunteers help host the event, and it is free and open to all. The city’s annual ...

Lawrence City Commission to consider contract with search firm for city manager hire

The city of Lawrence will consider hiring a professional firm to conduct a nationwide search to replace outgoing City Manager Tom Markus. At its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider approving a contract with California-based search firm Ralph Andersen & Associates for a base fee of $27,200, according to a city staff memo to the commission. Ralph Andersen & Associates is the same ...

Draft affordable housing plan includes new ideas, including buy-back program for certain old rentals

Many older homes in Lawrence’s core neighborhoods have long since been converted to rental properties, with some physically divided into apartments. Now, the city could consider a program that would undo some of those changes. The city’s Affordable Housing Advisory Board is reviewing the first draft of a plan to address specific deficiencies identified by a recent housing market study. The approximately ...

Lawrence City Commission to consider tax break for manufacturer's $5M expansion

City leaders will soon decide whether to provide a property tax break to a Lawrence manufacturer with plans to expand its operations. Grandstand Glassware & Apparel is planning an approximately $5 million expansion at its East Hills Business Park location. At its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider providing Grandstand a 50 percent property tax abatement for 10 years on the ...

Historic preservation board concerned about size of proposed downtown apartment project

Plans to build a six-story apartment and retail building on the northeast corner of 11th and Massachusetts streets will continue to be discussed at City Hall, but the city’s historic preservation board has major concerns with the building’s size. Members of the city’s Historic Resources Commission on Thursday night said that they agreed with city staff’s assessment that the project’s height and scale ...

As caravan creates national debate, local group to host public conversation on immigration

As a migrant caravan from Central America moves northward and the national immigration debate intensifies, one group would like to prompt a conversation at the local level. On Thursday, the University of Kansas Latin American Graduate Organization will host a panel discussion, “Let’s Talk About Immigration.” The event is open to the public and the panel will include four local experts on immigration and ...

Lawrence scientist facing deportation says immigration debate should seek middle ground

After his immigration case attracted international attention, a Lawrence scientist and father of three says fixing the immigration system will require finding the gray in what, for many people, has become a black-and-white issue. After more than 30 years in the U.S., Syed Jamal, 55, was nearly deported earlier this year, and his ability to remain here — where his children are U.S. citizens — remains up in ...

City leaders review policy for downtown cameras; public notifications and outside monitoring among questions

The City of Lawrence is moving closer to installing public cameras downtown. As part of its work session Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission reviewed a draft of the Lawrence Police Department’s policy for public cameras, which details how the cameras will be used and how footage will be monitored, stored and potentially released. Commissioners had questions but did not voice major objections to the draft ...

Discussions to begin regarding funding agreement for fire and medical services

City of Lawrence officials think Douglas County should be paying more toward firefighting and emergency medical services, though officials say they expect the conversation about the funding agreement will be complex. As part of the Lawrence City Commission's work session Tuesday, city staff presented information regarding the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Department funding agreement. Commissioners ...

Lawrence City Commission to review policy for public police cameras

City leaders will soon provide input on the Lawrence Police Department’s policy for public cameras. As part of its work session Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will review the policy, which details how public cameras and camera footage will be monitored, stored and potentially released. It’s estimated that it will cost the city $108,000 for the cameras and the computer server expenses related to ...

Lawrence City Commission to review funding agreement for fire and medical services

Story updated at 4:25 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12: Discussions will soon begin regarding how much city of Lawrence and Douglas County taxpayers should pay for firefighting and emergency medical services. City officials have said the current funding agreement for Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical is unfair to city taxpayers. As part of their work session Tuesday, Lawrence city commissioners will review the funding ...

Dam maintenance project could include creation of plaza and kayaking area along Kansas River

The portion of the Kansas River that borders downtown Lawrence is largely walled off from would-be visitors, but that could soon change if the city decides to move forward with a new river recreation and whitewater area. The city of Lawrence budgeted $2 million this year to repair the Kansas River dam and address erosion of the riverbank south of the dam. The city owns the land under Abe & Jake’s Landing ...

City leaders to consider requiring more top city employees to live in Lawrence

City leaders will soon consider whether more high-level city employees should have to live in Lawrence. At the Lawrence City Commission’s meeting this week, a resident said he was concerned that a number of administrative-level city employees live outside Lawrence, and he asked the city to consider requiring residency for more city positions. Lawrence resident John Blazek, who is a member of the Parks and ...

City of Lawrence approves new contractor to operate buses; new company says transition will be smooth

After 18 years of using the same company to operate its bus service, the City of Lawrence is having a new company take the wheel. At its meeting Tuesday, the commission voted unanimously to approve a new multimillion-dollar contract with First Transit Inc. beginning next year. The contract will cost more than the one offered by the city's current contractor, MV Transportation, but a committee tasked with ...

City Hall adopts 'more concrete' ethics policy for city employees and commissioners

City leaders have approved a new ethics policy to replace a more general policy that was created in 1991. At its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission voted unanimously to approve a revised ethics policy that now explicitly applies to all city employees, elected officials and appointed officials, which includes advisory board members, and provides more specific language regarding what constitutes an ...

Lawrence to distribute $1.4M in city funding to local social service agencies in 2019

The majority of the social service organizations that applied for city funding for 2019 will receive more than they did this year. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission approved the 2019 funding recommendations from the Social Service Funding Advisory Board for both the special alcohol fund and the general fund. The funding allocations provide about two dozen social service agencies a ...

City leaders vote to eliminate longevity bonuses for future employees, decrease amounts for existing employees

City leaders have voted to no longer offer bonuses based on seniority for future city employees and will be making changes to longevity payment amounts for existing employees beginning next year. At its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission voted, 4-1, with Commissioner Leslie Soden opposed, to adopt a new policy for the city’s longevity bonus that will tier and cap the amount paid to qualifying ...

City could provide significant funding boosts to some social service agencies in 2019

The majority of the social service organizations that applied for city funding for 2019 could receive more than they did this year, with some organizations potentially getting thousands more than they received in 2018. Funding for social services next year is set to get an extra bump in part because the special alcohol fund collected more than anticipated, and the Lawrence City Commission directed the city to ...

City paid $7.5M in bonuses to senior employees over past 20 years; city manager recommends phasing payments out

End-of-year bonuses for senior city of Lawrence employees that typically cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars annually could eventually be phased out. City management is recommending the change; employee groups are opposed. At its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider a new policy for the city's longevity bonus that would tier and cap the amount paid to qualifying employees ...