News and notes from around town:
• A leader with the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority has confirmed the group has selected its new executive director. The board has hired Shannon Oury to replace longtime director Barbara Huppee, who is retiring at the end of the year. Oury currently is an attorney with Lawrence-based Stevens & Brand. The housing authority is responsible for operating the city’s public housing units and providing rental assistance to hundreds of area residents. Check back later for more details.
• Housing construction in Lawrence continues to be on pace to top 2009 totals, according to a new report from City Hall. Through October, the city has issued building permits for 151 single-family or duplex units. That’s up from 111 permits during the same period in 2009. This year’s totals also are above the 114 permits issued through the first 10 months of 2008.
Thus far, the city has issued permits for $94.7 million worth of construction projects in the city. That’s up from $65.8 million in 2009, but down from $140.2 million in 2008.
One type of building that has slowed down in 2010 is apartment construction. Builders have begun work on 96 apartment units in 2010, down from 172 in 2009 and 557 in 2008.
For October, the city issued permits for $13 million worth of construction. The largest project in October was a $7.9 million permit for a seven-story apartment and retail building at Ninth and New Hampshire.
• A major construction project is under way at the Douglas County Bank at 15th and Kasold. The bank’s lobby and offices currently are closed as the building undergoes a $600,000 renovation. Pat Slabaugh, an executive vice president at the bank, said the 1980s-era building is being gutted and completely updated. The bank’s drive-through lane, though, is expected to remain open during the project. Slabaugh also said the bank would be able to accommodate any customers who needed access to their safe deposit boxes. Construction is expected to be completed by mid-February.
• Plans are in the works to turn a south Massachusetts Street church into a veterinary clinic specializing in cat care. A rezoning request for the Christian Science Society Church at 1701 Mass. has been filed with the city’s planning department. Officials with the Cat Clinic of Lawrence PA want to change the zoning and locate their veterinary clinic in the building. The building has been vacant for the past couple of months after the church stopped meeting there, said Kelvin Heck with Lawrence’s Grubb & Ellis /The Winbury Group. Heck is a broker for the deal. The rezoning request is seeking to have the property changed from single-family zoning to a residential office zoning. The request will have to be heard by both the planning commission and the city commission.
• Turkey dinner with all the fixings may be just the thing for your appetite this Thanksgiving, but city leaders are warning you that it is not the best recipe for your home’s sewer system. The city’s utilities department is asking people to not dump oily, greasy or fatty foods down their sink drains this holiday season. The grease builds up in pipes and can cause sewage backups. The department offers several alternatives to dumping grease down the drain. They include:
• Place small amounts of fats, oil and grease — including gravy — in a container with a tight-sealing lid and dispose of it in a trash receptacle.
• Mix cooking oils with an absorbent material such as coffee grounds, place in a lidded container and dispose of in the trash.
• Soak greasy pans in water and then place a paper towel over your sink drain to catch grease and food as you pour the water down the drain.