Archive for Saturday, January 29, 2005

Local briefs

January 29, 2005

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Chico's moving into downtown shop

A national retailer of casual women's clothing is set to move into downtown space vacated more than a year ago by another national retailer.

Chico's is expected to open in June at 643 Mass., taking half of the space once occupied by Eddie Bauer.

Fort Myers, Fla.-based Chico's has 655 stores, primarily under the name Chico's but also as White House/Black Market and Soma by Chico's.

GCB Holdings, which owns the building, is renovating 3,000 square feet of space to be occupied by a national clothing retailer, said Tim Fritzel, president of GCB Holdings.

Fritzel declined to identify the tenant, and company officials also have declined comment.

"It will be very complimentary to the existing tenant mix we have," said Fritzel, whose downtown buildings already are home to clothing retailers Talbot's, Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle Outfitters.

Banking

Financial 'Express' pulls into Lawrence

A bus loaded with financial information is rolling into Lawrence, part of a nationwide drive to boost financial literacy and awareness.

The bus, dubbed the Five Star Service Express, will pull up Saturday morning to US Bank, 900 Mass. Onboard will be bankers, mortgage professionals and business specialists promoting home ownership and financial education.

The Internet-equipped bus trip is sponsored by US Bank, Freddie Mac and the Community College Foundation.

"We're not waiting for people to come to us," said Lisa Clark, a spokeswoman for US Bank. "We're driving out to see them."

The bus will be at the bank from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. It also will stop by the Lawrence Bridal Show, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds; and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 10 in the parking lot at Checkers, 2300 La.

Fall and threat lead to arrest and committal

Police said Friday that a man found in an alley with mysterious head injuries Thursday morning has been arrested for threatening to kill a coffee shop worker.

Police said the threat came shortly before the man fell and injured his head.

The man, who has not been charged with a crime, was taken Friday from the Douglas County Jail to the state's psychiatric hospital in Osawatomie.

A city worker called police Thursday morning after finding the 38-year-old man injured in the alley between Connecticut and Rhode Island streets south of Seventh Street. He was flown to a hospital and police later determined the injuries resulted from the fall.

When he got out of the hospital Thursday afternoon, police arrested him on suspicion of making a criminal threat and criminal use of a firearm. They allege that shortly before he fell he went into Java Break, 15 E. Seventh St., and threatened to kill an employee.

Police believe he was under the influence of alcohol, according to a report. Officers found a handgun -- not a spring gun, as police previously reported -- at the scene of his fall.

Hearing set in theft case

A preliminary hearing for Michael Wurm, the 43-year-old Meriden resident accused of stealing more than $364,00 from his grandmother, has been set for May 9.

Prosecutors from the Kansas Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Division charged Wurm in December with 60 counts of felony theft from his grandmother, Reva Ross, who lives in an area nursing home.

This is not Wurm's first trip through the legal system. In 1977, he killed his parents and younger brother after returning from a high school dance. He spent several years in psychiatric care before being released and moving to eastern Kansas.

During Wurm's first appearance in court Dec. 17, District Magistrate Judge Steven Roth had set Feb. 14 as a tentative date to begin Wurm's preliminary hearing. Whitney Watson, a spokesman for the Attorney General's office, said the hearing had been moved to May to accommodate the defendant, who has other legal proceedings to attend to in the interim.

Promoting local history topic of summit

A "heritage summit" to consider ways of promoting the area's "Bleeding Kansas" history will be held today.

Lawrence-area officials have applied to Congress to designate the northeast Kansas region as a National Heritage Area, in recognition of the events here that helped spark the Civil War. If the designation passes, federal money would be made available to help attract history buffs as tourists.

The summit, 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at City Hall, will feature representatives from the National Park Service to help participants brainstorm projects that could be included as part of the heritage area.

For more information, contact Judy Billings at 865-4494, or e-mail at director@visitlawrence.com.

Politics

Conservative pundit to lecture at KU

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter will come to Lawrence this spring for a lecture at the Lied Center, Kansas University officials announced Friday.

Coulter will deliver the J.A. Vickers Sr. and Robert F. Vickers Sr. Memorial Lecture at 7 p.m. March 29. It is free and open to the public.

Coulter is an attorney and author of three best-selling books, including her most recent work, "Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right."

She writes a syndicated column and is a frequent guest on shows such as "Larry King Live," "Crossfire" and "Politically Incorrect."

Donations

National exposure boosts gifts for shelter

The Lawrence Open Shelter has received more than $1,200 in donations from across the country after being mentioned on a national Web site this month.

Eric Alterman, who writes the liberal "Altercation" blog for MSNBC.com, once worked with shelter director Loring Henderson in Washington, D.C. In his Jan. 11 blog, Alterman praised Henderson's efforts and gave readers the shelter's address -- 944 Ky. -- to send donations.

Henderson said Friday the shelter had received donations from Texas, Maine, Washington, Ohio, Massachusetts and Wisconsin.

Somebody in Maine sent in a pair of new blankets, he said. And an anonymous couple sent a case of foot powder.

"I see that, and I realize somebody's worked in a shelter before," Henderson said.

Henderson said he was gratified by the support.

"It's been very kind," he said, "and very good."

Roads

Wintry weather causes slick driving conditions

Slick roads caused by Friday night's snowfall had cars sliding on Lawrence roads and the police department busy as a result.

Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Fellers said that the police department responded to 39 accidents between 3 p.m. and 9:45 p.m., though no major injuries were reported. Fellers said the accident calls began to taper off once the heavy snowfall dissipated.

Similarly, the Kansas Highway Patrol reported several slide-offs, but no major injury accidents.

Snow quickly blanketed the area between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., making for slow going along city streets. Roughly two inches had fallen on Lawrence by 9 p.m.

Franklin County

Day care suspended after burning incident

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Friday suspended the license of a Franklin County day-care provider and issued notice that it intends to revoke the facility's license.

The emergency license suspension of the family day-care home at 301 E. Main St. in Rantoul came after an incident in which a 10-year-old boy was burned. A man at the day care said that Barbara Robinson, operator of the facility, refused to comment on the situation.

According to papers filed by the state, the child and a neighbor's child set fire to a pile of sticks Monday near the home. They then poured gasoline on the pile, creating flames that engulfed the child from the day care. More than 90 percent of his body was burned, according to state officials. The state's complaint suggests the boys were not being properly supervised when the incident occurred.

Growth

Task force split on change for development

Members of the city's Business Retention Task Force were split Thursday on an idea for making the building approval process easier for businesses to navigate.

The task force was divided on the idea of whether the city should create a development ombudsman position to be a single point of contact for developers and businesses as they work their way through the approval process.

Some members argued the process was flawed because it would take significant time for an ombudsman to become familiar with the various city departments -- such as planning, neighborhood resources and the public works department -- that are part of the development approval process.

But other members argued an ombudsman would be particularly helpful to small businesses because they often can't afford to hire a professional planning firm.

The task force, chaired by City Commissioner Sue Hack, agreed to discuss the issue at their next meeting at 4 p.m. Feb. 17 at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.

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