News and notes from around town:
• A Lawrence resident who is a CEO of a publicly traded company has bought a visible piece of North Lawrence commercial property and is remaking it.
But no, this isn’t a sign that North Lawrence is going to become home to some new mega venture. Instead, it is set to become home to a motorcycle adventure.
Lawrence resident Harry Herington is CEO and chairman of the board of Olathe-based NIC Inc., a publicly traded company in the e-government industry. But folks who know Herington also know that he is a motorcycle fan. What people may not know is that he also a former police officer — having served in Midland, Texas, and Wichita before entering the business world.
Herington has been combining those two parts of his life for about the last three years by serving as the leader of a charity organization called Ride4Cops. But now, Herington is hoping to take that organization to a new level.
As we noted in our weekly land transfers report a few months ago, Herington purchased the former Motorsport building at 646 N. Second Street. Recently, a sign went up on the building advertising Ride4Cops.com.
Herington told me he has purchased the former auto dealer location to serve as a meeting place and garage for people who want to support the Ride4Cops mission. As you can imagine, the Ride4Cops mission involves riding motorcycles — sometimes across the country — as a way to raise money to support the families of fallen police officers.
“I decided early on that when I got out of law enforcement, I was going to find a way to give back,” Herington said. “I consider police officers our home troops. They are out there protecting us every day.”
Each year, Herington takes time away from his duties at NIC to ride to a state capitol somewhere and raise awareness and money for organizations that support families of fallen police officers. Thus far, Herington has ridden over 20,000 miles and raised more than $200,000 for police officer-related charities, with the bulk going to the non-profit Concerns of Police Survivors Inc.
Herington wanted to make it clear that none of the money raised by his Ride4Cops organization was used to purchase the building in North Lawrence. That’s something he has done on his own.
Ride4Cops raises money through donations. NIC — the company Herington leads — has been a supporter of the organization. And Herington said employees of NIC have taken to the cause. The company has offices in most state capitals across the country. Employees in those cities have volunteered to organize local fundraisers in those communities.
The other things those employees have been known to do is store Herington’s motorcycle. Herington rides an immaculate Harley Davidson with an intricate set of graphics that tell the story of fallen police officers. But in order to make his schedule work, Herington often has to leave the bike for awhile in the city he’s just ridden to in order for him to get back to the office in a timely manner.
So employees often store the bike in their garages. Can you imagine storing the prized possession of your CEO in your garage?
“They build little forts around my bike,” Herington said of the efforts employees undertake to make sure the boss’ bike is safe. “It is pretty funny.”
With the new building, Herington hopes the organization will attract more attention locally and more donors. The Ride4Cops group is holding a local fundraisers on Sunday, May 6. The group will host the inaugural Run to Remember 5k at 7:30 a.m. at the Lawrence Police Department’s Investigation Center at 4820 Bob Billings Parkway.
Money raised from the event will benefit the Kansas Chapter of the Concerns of Police Survivors and the Douglas County Valor Awards Program. Information about the event can be found at Ride4Cops.com.
• Well, Harry Herington did pretty well for himself when he left the public sector and entered into private business. One prominent Lawrence city official is set to make that transformation himself. City Engineer Shoeb Uddin has confirmed that he’s leaving his city post by June 1 to start his own engineering consulting firm that will be based out of Topeka.
The city engineer may not be the most prominent of positions to the average citizen, but anybody who has ever tried to build a project of any size in Lawrence has probably dealt with the city engineer. Uddin is responsible for approving the designs of many pieces of city infrastructure, particularly streets.
Uddin has been the city engineer for the past five years, but for 11 years prior to that he did work in the private sector. Uddin said he simply had a desire to regain some of the freedom that private sector work allows.
Public Works Director Chuck Soules said a search already is underway for a new city engineer, which is currently being advertised as a $70,000 to $85,000 per year position.
“Shoeb has done a great job finding us funds and matching grants for several projects, and he has done a lot of work with our transportation programs,” Soules said. “We’re going to miss him.”
• Another week, another week’s worth of land transfers from the Douglas County Register of Deeds office. Click here to see the list of property sales and transfers for the week ending April 16.
One commercial sale of note, it appears the building that houses the Bargain Depot at 1547 E. 23rd St. has sold. Overland Park-based Melrose Properties LLC has sold the building to a trust led by Robert and Magda Cummins.
• While we're on commercial sales, we reported Monday about a property swap that is being finalized between Doug Compton's First Management Inc. and Black Hill Energy. As we reported, the deal involves Black Hills Energy taking over the office complex that houses the headquarters for First Management Inc. on North Iowa Street. Compton will take over the Black Hills Energy offices at the northeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets. The deal will allow Compton to move the headquarters of First Management Inc. onto the second floor of his new 901 N.H. building, and it clears the way for a large multi-story apartment project he hopes to build on the northeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire.
But people have asked me whether the deal also includes Black Hills' maintenance shop near the quickly redeveloping area at Eight and Pennsylvania in East Lawrence. Bill Fleming, a Lawrence attorney who has worked on the deal, told me the swap does not include the East Lawrence property.
I don't how important that piece of property is to Black Hills' Lawrence operations, but it may be an interesting piece of property to watch. It is right across the street from the renovated Poehler building, which has sparked renewed interest in that area of East Lawrence. It will be interesting to see if the pressure mounts to redevelop the Black Hills Energy property.