Archive for Friday, November 11, 2011

Town Talk: Tanning salon coming to Mass. Street; downtown kiosk planned to list merchants; City Commission to consider $400,000 in year-end payments to employees

November 11, 2011


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News and notes from around town:

• Soon, you will be able to walk down Massachusetts Street with a new golden glow about you. A tanning salon is set to become the newest addition to Massachusetts Street. The Tan Company, a growing franchise of salons, is moving into the ground floor space of the Travellers building at 831 Mass. Fans of the longtime travel agency of Travellers don’t have anything to worry about though. The agency is remaining open, but has moved all its operations to the second floor to make way for the new tanning salon.

“We think it is going to be the perfect type of business for the college town,” said Kent Houk of Travellers.

Houk said The Tan Company will be owned by a franchisee that also operates a store in the Kansas City area. The franchise started in St. Louis in the mid-1990s and now has about 70 locations in 13 states.

Of course, Houk is still open to helping you get a tan the old-fashioned way. A couple of tickets to the Caribbean usually does the trick.

• If you are having trouble finding your favorite stores in Downtown Lawrence, please share whatever you’re drinking with my wife. No seriously, help may be on the way. Downtown Lawrence Inc. has filed plans with City Hall to build an 8-foot-tall kiosk near the corner of Ninth and Mass. in front of the US Bank Tower. On one side the kiosk will have a map of downtown and a list of all businesses in the downtown district. No, you don’t have to be a member of Downtown Lawrence Inc. to be listed, although those businesses will be highlighted in bold font. On the other side of the kiosk will be an area where businesses can pay a small fee to post flyers and other advertisements. The fee will be used to help DLI maintain the kiosk. The project is getting a big assist from one of the downtown’s bigger developers. Downtown Lawrence Inc. director Cathy Hamilton approached Lawrence developer Doug Compton about using some of the left over brick he had on his multi-story building project at 901 N.H. for the kiosk. Compton told Hamilton that he could do better than that. He said he would have his construction company build the kiosk. Then he talked Lawrence-based Treanor Architects into designing the kiosk. The project still has to win approval from the Historic Resources folks at City Hall, but Hamilton hopes there will be a warm stretch this winter during which the project can be built.

• The holidays are nearing, so it is that time of year again. And no, I’m not talking about that time period when my wife wears the magnetic strip off our credit cards. (That started happening weeks ago.) Instead I’m talking about the time of year when the City Commission decides on whether to approve city bonuses — wait, scratch that — I mean longevity payments to city employees. Historically, the city in November decides whether to give a special, end-of-the-year paycheck to city employees who have five or more years of continuous full-time employment with the city. Commissioners will discuss that issue at their Tuesday evening meeting. City staff members are proposing that the program once again be funded, and at the same rate as in previous years. The proposed rate is $48 per year. So for an employee with 10 years of service, that means $480, before taxes. The city is estimating that the longevity payments will total a little more that $400,000 this year. That’s about 3.5 percent more than the city spent on the program last year. Perhaps not surprisingly, the number of city employees who have five or more years of service with the city is growing. In 2006, that number was 533. Today, it is 583.

There is no reason to believe that commissioners won’t approve the longevity payment on Tuesday. Commissioners have funded the payment through the depths of the recession, and the city’s budget this year doesn’t seem to be in any worse shape than it has been in past years. In fact, the city has funded the program for well over two decades. I believe that is why a couple of employee groups in the city have objected to my use of the term “bonus” to describe this program in the past. I’ve had city employees tell me that the program has been so consistently funded that they have now come to count on the end-of-year payment. So maybe they have a point there, although the dictionary definition of bonus fits this program pretty well. You can call it whatever you want. I know if I were city employee and I received the payment, I know what my wife would call it: Hers.


Lisa Rasor 6 years, 5 months ago

Chad, I really enjoy your Town Talk columns. You always have good information and interesting tidbits. I usually enjoy your sense of humor too. But you need to lay off the comments about your wife for a bit. Once in a while is funny, but lately the remarks about her have been in every column and, like today, in almost every paragraph. You're a good writer; don't cheapen yourself with mean-spiritedness.

Chad Lawhorn 6 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for the feedback. Trying to pass along useful information while keeping it light and conversational is a balancing act that can be a bit challenging. So, honestly, I appreciate your comments. I'll keep them in mind. Thanks, Chad

hildirid 6 years, 5 months ago

I also have become increasingly uncomfortable with the excess of Henny Youngman stuff. Please don't drive me away from one of best parts of my reading day.

hildirid 6 years, 5 months ago

PS, Here's a thought: how about having a nice chat with Cathy Hamilton, who manages to be funny about her family (including husband) without ever being trite or boring (let alone both). Pick up some tips.

somebodynew 6 years, 5 months ago

I want to know who is going to be responsible for keeping the kiosk up to date. Businesses come and go (sometimes a lot), so let us hope the names are put on in velcro or dry erase marker to make it cheaper and easier.

And Chad, as much as I like your column and chuckle at the wife jokes, I do tend to agree with catiefan.

(Was that strong enough Mrs. Somebodynew or do I need to do more ????)

jackpot 6 years, 5 months ago

Chad do you sleep with one eye open? If not maybe you need to start.

Jennifer Alexander 6 years, 5 months ago


I enjoy your articles, and (coming from a woman) I dont think the references to your wife are bad at all. You can tell by your writing style that it is sarcastic, and in fun. If she doesnt mind it, you are OK with it and the writing/situation fits then do what you want. Obviously she doesnt care because you write things about her. I think that people are taking offense to it because maybe they do not understand the sarcasm behind it. I for one get a chuckle out of the references. Its nice to laugh out loud at an article every now and then. As long as she (your wife) doesnt mind.....then who cares!?!?!?

sherbert 6 years, 5 months ago

I like Chad's personal comments. Glad the city workers get a bonus on our dollar, wish we all did.

pace 6 years, 5 months ago

I would love a couple of guest paragraphs from a wife, joking about what a cheap skate she married. How he wants to see the indention of fingerprints in the pennies. Sad so many seedy businesses are making Mass their home. Cancer booths, tanning and cigarettes, not smart choice. My sin is good beef. Chad, I appreciate your voice on town matters, they show you work hard to get relevant information and you deliver it charmingly. The kiosk seems to me a useful tool, a better move to promote downtown shops than the idea from Downtown Inc. of charging kids to trick or treat..

Lee Eldridge 6 years, 5 months ago

Chad, you have my permission to make fun of your wife any time you want! You do a fine job of keeping the content light. You can't please everybody, and you shouldn't try.

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