News and notes from around town:
• UPDATE: From the Census, Lawrence's population grew to 87,643 people, up from 80,098 in the 2000 Census. That's a growth rate of 9.4 percent for the decade. The city is the sixth largest in the state. The top five and their growth rates are: Wichita: 382,368 (11.1 percent); Overland Park, 173,372 (16.3 percent); Kansas City, 145,786 (down 0.7 percent); Topeka 127,473 (4.2 percent); Olathe, 125,872 (35.4 percent)
• UPDATE: From the Census, Douglas County has a population of 110,826 people, and remains the fifth largest county in the state. The county grew by 10.9 percent for the decade, which is its slowest growth rate since the 1940 Census. Check back later for more updates.
• UPDATE: 1:45 This from the AP. Wichita remains the largest city in the state. (By the way, we're still waiting to get the official release from the Census so that we can dive into the Lawrence and Douglas County numbers.)
U.S. Census Bureau figures add show that Wichita remains the largest city in Kansas.
Numbers provided to state officials Thursday show that the 2010 count of Wichita’s population at 382,368, a roughly 11 percent jump. That’s up about 38,000 from the 2000 figure of 344,284. The Associated Press obtained the figures before their public release.
Despite the recent economic downturn, the Wichita area remains a center of aircraft manufacturing.
• UPDATE: 1:30. This from the AP. Johnson County has largest population in the state.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s latest figures confirm that Johnson County is the most populous county in Kansas.
Figures provided to state officials Thursday also showed that Johnson County had 21 percent growth in its population over the past decade.
Figures obtained by The Associated Press before their public release showed that Johnson County had 544,179 residents in the 2010 Census. That’s about 93,000 more than the 451,086 residents in 2000.
The new numbers mean Johnson County is likely to pick up seats in the Legislature when its members redraw their districts next year.
The second most-populous county is Sedgwick, with 498,365 residents, compared to 452,869 in 2000, when it still was the most populous county. Its population grew about 10 percent.
• UPDATE. The Associated Press has obtained an advance copy of Kansas Census data that is scheduled to be released this afternoon. According to the AP, 77 of the state's 105 counties have lost population during the last decade. The AP hasn't published a list of the counties. As the AP notes, the numbers come at the same time that Gov. Sam Brownback has proposed a plan that would exempt people from state income taxes for five years if they move from another state to a Kansas county that’s had a population decline of 10 percent or more over the past decade. Check back here for updates as they become available.
• Lawrence resident Daniel Lauing warns you right up front.
“This could be pretty far out there in some respects,” Lauing says.
Far out as in outer space. Lauing is a Lawrence sculptor and stone mason but he’s also a UFO researcher — and not just the casual kind. He’s been working on a UFO thesis for 20 years that he’s turning into a self-published book later this year. But right now his focus is on turning Downtown Lawrence into the center of the UFO universe — at least for a weekend.
From March 18-20, Lauing is hosting the Reykawvik UFO Summit in Liberty Hall. The conference will feature more than a dozen speakers from across the country who are renowned in the field of “UFOlogy.” (You never know what words you get to use in this business.) If you are a fan of those UFO programs that show up frequently on cable television, you might recognize a couple of the speakers. Included on the roster are Richard Dolan, a historian, researcher and author who has appeared on The History Channel, the BBC, and the Sci Fi Channel; Stanton T. Friedman, a nuclear physicist and UFO lecturer who has appeared on Larry King’s show several times; and retired U.S. Air Force Col. Charles Halt who was a witness to what is widely regarded as the most significant — and disputed — UFO event in Britain, the Rendlesham Forest Incident.
One speaker who is of particular interest to Lauing is Robert Salas, who is billed as a “highly regarded witness” to a 1967 UFO incident at Malmstrom Air Force Base where he claims 10 nuclear missiles became non-operational after guards reported UFOs hovering above the facilities.
Lauing is convinced such incidents are continuing to happen and are being covered up by the government.
“I really seriously have to believe we’re close to some sort of a nuclear confrontation,” Lauing told me. “I’m very concerned about it and I know there are many others who are too.”
Evidently, he’s really concerned about it. He told me that he has spent $22,000 on honorariums, rental fees, lodging and other expenses to put the conference together. He’s selling tickets to the conference for $15.50 a day. Yes, he believes in UFOs. But no, he doesn’t believe he’s going to make any money on this.
• If there are extraterrestrial aliens in Lawrence, I wonder if they got counted by the U.S. Census. Regardless, we’ll get our first glimpse at Lawrence and Douglas County’s 2010 Census data today. It is expected to be released by 2 p.m. Today’s data will show how much Lawrence and Douglas County have grown in terms of population during the last decade. That’s a hot topic in Lawrence, as there always seems to be a debate over whether the city is growing too fast or too slow. I think most Census observers around here believe the numbers likely will show Lawrence's growth rate for the past decade has been slower than the last couple of decades. To get you ready for the release, here’s some background numbers on Douglas County’s population over the decades:
1900: 25,096, 4.7 percent growth rate
1910: 24,724, 1.4 percent decline
1920: 23,998, 2.9 percent decline
1930: 25,143, 4.7 percent growth rate
1940: 25,171, 0.1 percent growth rate
1950: 34,086, 35.4 percent growth rate
1960: 43,720, 28.2 percent growth rate
1970: 57,932, 32.5 percent growth rate
1980: 67,640, 16.7 percent growth rate
1990: 81,798, 20.9 percent growth rate
2000: 99,962, 22.2 percent growth rate
• Here’s betting that Lawrence’s population numbers, even if they are a little slower than past years, don’t make a return to the 1910s and 1920s. There certainly have been new homes built in Lawrence, and City Hall recently put together a neat map that shows where. The city has created a map that shows where new single-family building permits have been issued in Lawrence from 2005 to 2010. The map shows you at a glance which areas of town have been experiencing new construction. Certainly, there has been a good deal of construction west of Monterey Way in west Lawrence, but there also has been quite a bit east of Delaware Street in east Lawrence. You can view the map here.
• Ready for spring? The city’s flower planting crews are getting ready. The city is seeking volunteers to help plant downtown flowers from 9 a.m. to noon on March 19. People interested in volunteering should call the parks and recreation office at 832-3450.