Archive for Wednesday, December 2, 1998


December 2, 1998


Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance customers no longer will have to pay their city-county ambulance bills and wait for reimbursement from the company, under an contract approved by Lawrence city commissioners Tuesday.

Commissioners agreed to make Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical a "contract provider" for the company, the largest insurer in Douglas County. The decision is expected to be "revenue neutral" in 1999, said Ted McFarlane, the department's deputy chief.

The move, for 1999, will allow the city to bill the insurance company directly for ambulance services. Currently, the company waits for customers to pay their own ambulance bills -- nearly $400, on average -- and then seek reimbursement.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield provides insurance coverage for many county residents, including all state employees. That includes those at Kansas University, the city's largest employer.

Commissioners also agreed not to increase ambulance rates for next year.

ProSoCo Inc. lands

tax abatement

A company seeking to relocate to the East Hills Business Park can go ahead and sell industrial revenue bonds and enjoy a 10-year break on its property taxes, commissioners decided.

Commissioners approved a revised plan for ProSoCo Inc., which plans to sell up to $8.5 million in bonds to finance construction of its new 82,000-square-foot center in the business park. Construction already is under way.

The company produces architectural coatings, maintenance cleaners and protective treatments for the construction industry.

Once it moves in, the company plans to have 72 employees on site, of which 62 would come from existing operations in the Kansas City area, which would be closed. Sixteen of the employees would be newly hired.

Together, the project's property, construction and equipment is expected to cost more than $8 million. Earlier plans called for a $7 million project.

Arts Center meeting

scheduled Tuesday

Architects for a $5.8 million expansion and renovation of the Lawrence Arts Center will meet with an advisory committee next week to discuss options for the embattled project.

Architects from Glenn Livingood Penzler Architects (GLPA) will meet with the Mayor's Arts Center Advisory Committee to mull potential design changes before sending drawings to state preservation officials for review.

The meeting is set for 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Tuesday at city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts.

The project, already more than 10 years in the works, would add onto the center's current home: the city's Carnegie Library building, 200 W. Ninth, which is a landmark on the National Register of Historic Places.

State preservation officials already have objected to preliminary plans.

Mayor Marty Kennedy said he met last week with representatives from the state, arts center, GLPA and Historic Resources Commission to discuss options.

Construction managers

hired for indoor pool

The city's new $9.5 million indoor aquatics center will be built under the watchful eyes of an experienced team of project managers.

Cost for that team: $682,889.

Commissioners agreed to hire DiCarlo/Green to manage construction for the project, to be located at the north end of Free State High School.

Construction of the center is anticipated to begin this spring and be finished by 2001. The center is expected to include a 50-meter competitive pool, diving well, seating for 1,000 and a "family" pool featuring a water slide.

DiCarlo/Green already is handling management of the $14.1 million community health facility, now under construction across Maine Street from Lawrence Memorial Hospital. The project is on pace to be $1 million under budget, City Manager Mike Wildgen said.

The aquatics center is being financed with city revenues from a 1-cent countywide sales tax approved by voters in 1994.

Lawrence to grow

by another 40 acres

A church and a future city park can go ahead and officially join the city of Lawrence.

Commissioners approved ordinances, on first reading, to annex two properties currently northwest of Lawrence's official city limits:

  • 30 acres north and west of the intersection of Wakarusa and Overland drives, property set aside for a future city park.
  • 10 acres at 964 U.S. Highway 40, which is occupied by St. Margaret's Church.

After being approved once more in the coming weeks, the annexations would become effective Jan. 1.

The city currently has no official plans for the park property, other than keeping it in storage for the future, City Manager Mike Wildgen said.

Traffic signal upgrades

gain city's green light

The city will borrow up to $100,000 next year to upgrade traffic signals at up to four intersections.

Commissioners agreed to sell $100,000 in bonds to finance as much of the work as possible. The city has sought help from the state to finance the two of the projects.

If the money comes through, all four projects could be finished next year, City Manager Mike Wildgen said.

Here's the list, in order of priority, followed by the total estimated cost for each project:

  • 23rd Street and Barker Avenue, $100,000.
  • 23rd and Alabama streets, $100,000.
  • Iowa Street and Harvard Road, $100,000.
  • Sixth and Massachusetts streets, $15,000.

Fire code sparks

new blasting rules

New rules for blasting operations in town won approval from commissioners.

Commissioners approved an ordinance, on final reading, to enact an updated fire code for the city. Any new construction that involves blasting will be required to conduct pre-blast surveys and provide seismograph monitoring of such operations.

Such new rules are intended to protect adjacent landowners from damage. Costs of the additional requirements would be incurred by the developer.

The new code does not include requirements for installing fire-protecting sprinklers in the basements of many downtown buildings. A decision on that issue is expected soon.

Commissioners laud

Haskell-city program

Commissioners applauded Haskell Indian Nations University students participating in a federal work-study program by inviting them to city hall.

The students work for the city, in exchange for pay and experience that can apply to careers in the future.

"It's kind of like an extra class -- a hands-on class," said Dennis Blackwood, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma who works part time in the city manager's office.

Cindi Johnico, another Haskell student, organized the work-study program. She's worked part time since May in the city's personnel department.

She said there were 17 part-time municipal jobs available, of which five had been filled. Andrea Johnson-Harper, for example, works for the Lawrence Police Department.

"It is strengthening the relationship between Haskell and the city of Lawrence," Johnico said.

Mayor appoints new

HAND committee

A committee charged with recommending ways to spend $1.5 million in federal housing- and neighborhood-related grants now has its members.

Mayor Marty Kennedy appointed members to the group, called the Housing and Neighborhood Development (HAND) Advisory Committee.

A rundown of the members, their affiliations and terms:

Three-year terms: Diana Deutsch, at-large and member of the city's Housing Advisory Council; James Dunn, a landlord from the Oread neighborhood; Terri Pippert, a member of the city's Practitioner's Panel; and Sandra Shaw, at-large and member of the city's Housing Advisory Council.

Two-year terms: Guenter de Vries, from the North Lawrence neighborhood; Bob Ebey, a landlord and member of the city's Practitioners Panel; Scott Henderson, at-large and member of the city's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Advisory Committee; and Bill Wachspress, from the East Lawrence neighborhood.

One-year terms: Jenna Coker, from the Brook Creek neighborhood; Vern Norwood, at-large and member of the city's Housing Advisory Council; and Phyllis Wolf, from the Pinckney neighborhood.

Commissioners will meet with the committee at 1:15 p.m. today at city hall.

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