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Archive for Tuesday, September 11, 2001

EXTRA - Lawrence watches as horror develops

September 11, 2001

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Douglas County officials were watching this morning's events in Washington and New York but were taking few actions to raise security at public buildings in the community.

Officials in the county's Emergency Management Office referred questions to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, but didn't appear to be in a high state of activity.

"Obviously, we're aware of what's going on," said Lawrence Police Sgt. Mark Warren.

City Manager Mike Wildgen said at 10 a.m. he was still trying to contact Police Chief Ron Olin, who was on his way to Topeka for a speech. But Wildgen said he was aware of no security precautions.

Olin had been scheduled to speak about school safety and violence issues at a conference organized by the Koch Crime Commission. When news of the apparent terrorist attacks reached Topeka, Olin was asked to change his speech and talk about terrorism. Olin is considered an expert in terrorist response.

City employees, like people across Lawrence and the nation, were gathering around radios and televisions in City Hall to listen to news reports of the attacks.

"We're not any more knowledgeable than 95 percent of the world," Wildgen said. "While the distance is a long ways, emotionally it's a close impact."

Kansas City International Airport canceled outgoing flights, and the airport was towing improperly parked cars, according to television reports. KCI officials did not return calls to the Journal-World.

The Kansas City, Mo., office of the Federal Aviation Administration referred calls to a spokesman in Washington, but phone circuits in that city were jammed and calls could not go through.

As of 10:30 a.m., the Lawrence post office was open.

"We haven't increased security," postmaster Bill Reynolds said, "but we are aware of what's going on."

"At this point,' Reynolds said, "the biggest thing is how long they shut down the airports because we use commercial airlines to ship mail."

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