Town Talk: Police calls at homeless shelter decline; Lawrence fires cause $1 million in damage in 2010; gun shop to open on 23rd Street; signs of life for Vermont Street BBQ

News and notes from around town:

• There are new numbers out today about the Lawrence Community Shelter. The city’s lone homeless shelter has filed its annual report with the city, and it shows the number of people using the downtown facility is up, while police calls to the location have dropped. Here’s a look at some of the figures:

  1. The shelter had 419 newly registered guests in 2010. That’s up from 311 new intakes in 2009.
  2. The daytime drop-in center and case management services served 667 separate individuals.
  3. Police calls to the shelter totaled 396, down from 442 in 2009, according to police department numbers.
  4. The top 10 police call categories to the shelter were: trespassing, 103; medical emergency, 52; request to speak to an officer, 33; pedestrian check, 32; disturbance (no weapon): 29; follow up, 24; battery, 22; theft, 10; check welfare, 9; warrant service, 8.
  5. The shelter helped find jobs for 44 shelter guests during 2010. That was up from 42 in 2009.
  6. The shelter helped find housing for 54 shelter guests in 2010, up from 49 in 2009.
  7. 70 percent of the shelter’s guests were from Lawrence or Douglas County, according to records kept by the shelter.

• While we’re on the subject of reports, Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical has released its annual report showing how many calls the department responded to in 2010. The total number of incidents the department responded to was up 3.7 percent to 9,903. Emergency medical calls were up 2.9 percent to 7,763, fire calls were up 6.3 percent to 1,982 and coroner calls were up 12.8 percent to 158.

The most expensive fire from a property damage standpoint was at 1401 Lawrence Avenue in May. It did $200,000 worth of property damage. Total damages from all fires in Lawrence in 2010 were $1.05 million.

• Motorists on 23rd Street may have recently noticed a new sign that simply says GUNS in bright red letters. Indeed, a new gun shop is opening in town. Shrum Outfitters & Trading Co. has set up shop at 1120 E. 23rd St., which just east of Heritage Tractor’s John Deere dealership. I haven’t had any luck catching up with the owner yet. Folks in the area say the store hasn’t opened, but is expected to do so next week.

• People keep asking if Vermont Street BBQ is still planning on opening downtown. As we previously reported, the restaurant is going into the former Joe College location on Mass. Street. It appears renovation work is underway, and a menu has been posted in the window. Pork, brisket, turkey breast and smoked sausage sandwiches are all on the menu. Also cherry smoked chicken, bourbon turkey legs and Lawrence cut spare ribs also make an appearance.