WRITER: Mackenzie Clark

Douglas County Commission to change meeting time; staff will post audio online

Story updated at 6:51 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019: The Douglas County Commission is making a few changes in an effort to improve transparency. The commission will start its meetings at 5:30 p.m. each Wednesday, beginning March 6, according to a news release from the county. The time change is to make it easier for the public to attend than its current meeting times of 4 and 6 p.m. on Wednesdays. County ...

Police, schools investigating Lawrence student's report of threatening social media post

Story updated at 6:10 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13: Lawrence high school administrators and the Lawrence Police Department were investigating a student’s report of a threatening Snapchat post Wednesday afternoon, the district said in a news release. A Free State High School student allegedly threatened to shoot an LHS student Wednesday at LHS, and that LHS student then reported the social media post to the ...

Grant Township residents will have help if snow hits roads later this week

Residents of Grant Township in rural Douglas County will have help if snow strikes the area again later this week, despite a recent turn of events. Douglas County Commissioner Nancy Thellman brought the matter to the governing board’s Wednesday meeting. She said the roads in Grant Township, largely gravel, have seriously deteriorated because of the freezing, thawing and fluctuating winter conditions this ...

Lawrence High student allegedly brings gun to school; incident is second in a week, fifth in district in past year

Story last updated at 10:35 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12: For the second time in the span of a week, a Lawrence High School student has allegedly brought a gun to school. In an email to LHS parents and a news release to local media, district spokeswoman Julie Boyle wrote, “Acting on a tip that a student may have a gun at school,” administrators worked with school resource officers to conduct a search and ...

Douglas County Commission to consider repair of fairgrounds building's entryways

The Douglas County Fairgrounds coordinator is asking county commissioners to waive purchasing procedures for a project because he’s only received one bid. Building 21 was not part of the nearly $8 million fairgrounds improvement project that culminated in the debut of several new facilities for the July 2017 county fair. In a memo to the commission before its meeting Wednesday, Fairgrounds Coordinator Clint ...

Douglas County clerk: Justice Matters is required to file campaign finance report

Story updated 9:19 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019: After what Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew called a misunderstanding, a local coalition of faith-based organizations is on track to file a report detailing how much they spent to campaign against a county sales tax proposal. The Journal-World reported Sunday that Justice Matters was more than 30 days past due to file an account of its expenditures for its ...

Lawrence school district announces immediate actions to address gun incidents on campus

The Lawrence school district announced that it will take some immediate actions in light of two students bringing guns to Lawrence High School within the span of a week — one on Wednesday, Feb. 6, and one on Tuesday. In an email to media late Tuesday evening, district spokeswoman Julie Boyle said that district and school administrators met to review safety policies, procedures and practices. She also ...

Lawrence school board to hear update on PowerSchool student management software

Story updated at 8:45 a.m. Monday, Feb. 11: The Lawrence school board on Monday will hear an update on the student management software that the district has implemented this year. The rollout of PowerSchool — a single program that has replaced the district’s former student information system, learning management system and a few other applications — began in August. At that time, the Journal-World ...

Lawrence school district needs to shake PowerSchool’s bad first impression, staff member says

One problem facing the district’s PowerSchool team is getting the sour taste out of users’ mouths, Kirsten Wondra told the Lawrence school board at its Monday meeting. “That initial impression is hard to rebrand,” said Wondra, the district’s assistant director of learning and technology. “So for me, I think that's probably our biggest challenge, but I will say I think we've got the right team to ...

Healthy Outlook: Free online class teaches ‘science of happiness’

I’ve occasionally considered going back to school to further my education. The problem is that most graduate programs don’t offer classes that I can complete on my own schedule at home in my pajamas, that have only optional assignments and that are completely free — of cost and of obligations. Fortunately for me, I’ve discovered the perfect school and courses that fit all of my criteria. I recently ...

Flu cases on the rise in Douglas County, but still far fewer than last season

The percentage of visits with flu-like symptoms to hospital emergency departments is on the rise for county residents, according to the latest data from the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department. In the first and second weeks of February 2018, that number peaked. Friday’s number, about 7 percent, is the highest so far this season; however, last year’s was more than double that at 18 percent. The flu ...

With 5 inclement-weather days, Lawrence school district unsure if makeup days will be needed

The Lawrence school district doesn’t yet know whether students will need to make up time to meet state requirements after five inclement-weather days so far this year. District spokeswoman Julie Boyle said via email Friday that many staff members had been out of the office with the back-to-back inclement-weather days on Thursday and Friday but that she would provide an update when that information became ...

Lawrence High student acted out in class before staff found gun in his bag, school district says

Updated story - Criminal charges filed against student who reportedly brought gun to LHS When Lawrence High School administrators heard tips that a student had brought a gun to school on Wednesday, the school was not placed on lockdown — there was no basis for one, a district spokeswoman said. Julie Boyle, the district’s executive director of communications, explained why in an email response to ...

Douglas County health leaders motivated to act for equity, they tell commissioners

Sonia Jordan, of the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, said she has felt as though she’s had a lead weight hanging around her neck, and it’s pushing her to action. “I've seen the faces of people of various populations around our county when they read this report and they realize that we are failing them,” she said, referring to the department’s 2018 Health Equity report. “... You feel ...

Douglas County Commission to hear presentation on race- and income-based health disparities

Douglas County residents who earn less than $35,000 are 6.6 times more likely to be uninsured and to be diagnosed with asthma. That’s one finding listed in the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department’s 2018 Health Equity Report. Those same residents are also more likely to not see a doctor because of cost and to have poor mental and physical health, the report said. County commissioners will hear more ...

Healthy Outlook: What is heart rate variability (HRV), and what does it mean for your health?

Not too long ago, if you’d asked the average guy about wearable technology, he might have gestured to the Walkman clipped to his cargo pants, next to his beeper. The phrase has taken on an entirely different meaning. Today’s wearable technology gives us access to a massive amount of our own medical data — whether we understand it or not. One of those numerical treasure troves is heart rate variability, ...

As mayor, Lawrence 7th-grader would improve city’s bikeability

If Jack Tell were mayor, Lawrence residents might have to deal with a lot of construction and noise for a little while — but the payoff would be improved bike infrastructure citywide. The Billy Mills Middle School seventh-grader recently finished as a regional winner in the annual Kansas League of Municipalities “If I Were Mayor” memo contest. Jack’s plan to make Lawrence more bike-friendly would ...

Douglas County Commission to hold public hearings on construction managers for jail expansion, behavioral health housing

Douglas County commissioners voted Wednesday to hold public hearings for comment on the option to use a construction manager at risk method for two projects — the jail expansion and housing on the behavioral health campus. Interim County Administrator Sarah Plinsky said statutes demand that the county “jump through hoops” to use a construction manager at risk, or CMR, method instead of the traditional ...

Douglas County could start process to seek construction manager for jail, behavioral health projects

The Douglas County Commission could take the first step in seeking out a construction manager to assist in the design of both a jail expansion and parts of planned behavioral health housing projects. Rather than the traditional design-bid-build method, a construction manager at risk, or CMR, would provide the county a guaranteed maximum price for the work. Interim County Administrator Sarah Plinsky said in a ...

$46 million construction project will affect entire Lawrence High School building

Visitors to Lawrence High School in 2021 will see an entirely different entrance from what’s there today, according to a representative of the design firm behind the $46.2 million construction project that will break ground after schools let out for summer vacation. The same principle applies to the rest of the school — "All of Lawrence High is being touched," Whitney Lang, a senior associate with Gould ...