News and notes from around town:
• Lawrence city employees were in the junk business earlier this month. A crew from the city’s Code Enforcement Division took action during the first week of November to clean up major trash and debris violations at 214 N. Sixth St.
Crews removed 21.5 tons — 10 large roll-off trash bins worth — of junk and other material. The property owner, Calvin Bryan, had been uncooperative in working with the city on the code violations, city officials said. The city ultimately had to obtain an administrative search warrant that allowed the city crews to enter the property.
What they found on the property included bicycles (a tree had grown through one of the bikes), discarded furniture, old computers and trash of all sorts. The city collected five tons of material that was able to be recycled and sold to Lonnies Recycling for about $450. All the trash was contained on a site that was no more than 0.4 of an acre.
According to a City Hall report, the city, which had to hire a contractor to do some of the work, spent just under $3,100 on the project. The city will attempt to collect that money from the property owner through special assessments and other means allowed under state law.
• Ground is now broken on a seven-story retail/office/apartment building for Ninth and New Hampshire streets. A development group led by Lawrence businessman Doug Compton hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday morning. Compton said construction is expected to take 12 to 14 months. Compton said a lease is being finalized for a fitness center to take about 9,000 square feet of the ground-floor space. A wine bar also is slated for the ground floor. The wine bar is expected to be run by the same group that operates Esquina in downtown.
Compton said he plans to move the headquarters for his company, First Management Inc., to the second floor. That will involve about 40 employees moving to the downtown. The remaining five floors will be a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.
• A new federal report is out that shows how well the Kansas economy fared during 2009. The short answer: better than the national economy but not as well as many other Midwestern states. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Thursday on the gross domestic product of each state. Kansas’ GDP declined 1.1 percent for the year. That was a better showing than the national GDP, which dropped 2.1 percent. But Kansas’ GDP performance was fifth out of the seven states that make up the Plains Region. Only Missouri and Minnesota had larger declines in GDP, at 2.2 percent and 2.3 percent respectively. North Dakota had the best GDP growth in the region at 3.9 percent. Others were South Dakota 2.2 percent, Nebraska, 0.3 percent, and Iowa negative 0.2 percent.
The report showed that a decline in durable goods manufacturing — think aircraft — was the largest factor in Kansas’ GDP decline. The agriculture sector produced the largest increase in Kansas GDP.
• Two Douglas County water suppliers have won a top award from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The city of Lawrence and Douglas County Rural Water District No. 5 both were awarded KDHE’s Capacity Development Achievement Award.
The award honors water systems that go beyond the standards in the Safe Water Drinking Act. Only four systems in the state received the award this year.