Archive for Monday, October 8, 2012

Town Talk: Lawrence Gymnastics buys second W. Lawrence location; Kansas ranks 45th in energy efficiency; effort under way to increase visibility of Leo Beuerman plaque

October 8, 2012


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News and notes from around town:

• This chill in the air of a morning has me needing to do something to get the blood pumping. Maybe gymnastics is just the thing.

I’m sure that is what you were thinking too, and there is news on the gymnastics front. Lawrence Gymnastics has completed a deal to purchase the building at 5150 Clinton Parkway, which is near the former Sport-2-Sport location and the current Jayhawk Tennis center.

The new 10,000 square-foot building will serve as a second location for Lawrence Gymnastics. The company will continue to operate out of its 4930 Legends Drive building as well. The Legends Drive building, will focus more on team and competition level gymnastics, plus boys recreational gymnastics.

The 5150 Clinton Parkway building will house preschool gymnastics classes, kids fitness classes, girls recreational gymnastics and dance, cheer and other similar programs.

Both locations also will have space available for birthday parties and such. Lawrence Gymnastics previously had been sharing some space at the building with a church that was located there. But recently, the owners of the gymnastics academy swung a deal to purchase the building, which was built years ago to accommodate a similar type of business, Dance City.

Carol McGarity, manager for Lawrence Gymnastics, said the business basically got the equivalent of a bunch of free advertising this summer.

“The Olympics have helped business a whole lot,” McGarity said. “People realize that even if you don’t go competitive, it is a good sport to help with coordination and flexibility. It gives you a lot of skills that can help in other sports.”

As I sit here this morning shivering on my couch, perhaps I’ll try a head stand to get the blood warmed up.

• If you are like me (if so you just found out a head stand isn’t as easy as it used to be), this cold weather has caused your spouse to begin to think about maybe, just perhaps, turning on the furnace.

I’m hopeful that the frost on my iPhone screen this morning helped make the case to turn up the thermostat a bit. (Some people have to leave time of a morning to scrape their windshields. I have to leave time to scrape the computer monitor.)

Well, know this, fellow Kansans, when you do finally turn on the furnace, you probably will be wasting a lot of money. A new report by an energy-efficiency advocacy group ranks Kansas as the 45th worst state in the country when it comes to energy efficiency.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy seemed rather unimpressed with the state’s energy efficiency efforts. The report notes that Kansas does not have any laws or regulatory rules that mandate energy-efficiency programs, although some utilities do offer some voluntary programs.

States that ranked below Kansas were Alaska, South Dakota, Wyoming, West Virginia, North Dakota and Mississippi. (The District of Columbia also was ranked, bringing the total to 51, in case you were wondering about the math.) Massachusetts, for the second year in a row, ranked No. 1. Among Midwestern states, Iowa ranked highest at No. 11.

Kansas, though, surely will rise in the rankings. My wife is doing her part, although I currently have on four televisions, three computers, 18 light bulbs and a microwave in an effort to stave off hypothermia.

• Some of you, though, may remember a Kansan who would have ranked pretty high in an efficiency study.

In the 1960s, Leo Beuerman was a fixture in downtown Lawrence. Born in 1902 with a host of physical disabilities, Beuerman stood 3 feet 3 inches tall, and before he was 30 he had lost all his hearing.

But for more than a decade, Beuerman showed up to work each day to sell pencils and other items out of a cart he made himself.

Beuerman was the subject of an Academy Award nominated documentary in 1969, and one of the most memorable scenes about Beuerman is how he arrived to work each day.

He drove a specially modified tractor to town, and the way in which he moved his small frame off the tractor was quite a sight to see. Click here to see a clip from the movie. Beuerman used a system of chains and pulleys that he and a nephew built that lowered him and his special cart to the ground.

Beuerman died in 1974, but he is still remembered by longer-term members of the community

Well, there is an effort under way to make sure his memory is elevated just a bit. Currently there is a sidewalk plaque honoring Beuerman that is just outside Teller’s Restaurant, which used to be the First National Bank Building, a place he often would sell his pencils.

But the plaque is frequently covered up by chairs or tables related to Teller’s sidewalk dining operations. Lawrence resident Frank Janzen has sent a request to city officials asking that the plaque be moved to the side of a concrete planter near the Teller’s location.

The planter, which is near the corner of Eighth and Mass., is more visible to pedestrians, and also is near the spot where Beuerman parked his tractor, Janzen writes.

Janzen said representatives from Teller’s approve of the move, and city officials with Public Works and Parks and Recreation have indicated moving the plaque is feasible. Plus, Janzen said four nieces and nephews of Beuerman’s were in town recently and thought moving the plaque was a good idea.

The request currently is working its way through the approval process at the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Department.


bornherelongago 5 years, 8 months ago

It is my recollection as a child that Leo was usually in his little cart right in front of Weaver's. We would talk to him often. I think anything that makes the acknowledgement of Leo more prominent is a good thing.

Clark Coan 5 years, 8 months ago

Originally he was in front of First National Bank (now Tellers). I would buy pencils from him as a young child for a nickel but I was someone afraid of him because he was my size but had a deep voice. The videos about him are very inspiring.

coloradoan 5 years, 8 months ago

Didn't know Leo, but remember when I attended KU reading articles occasionally about him. It seems to me that we need to think a little bigger. If you really want to keep the memory of him alive, why not a lifesize sculpture to occupy part of the sidewalk he used to occupy? A plaquer seems so insignificant, ignorable. There's enough sculpture downtown already with no apparent tie to the locale, so why not commemorate a local individual who bravely faced each day with limitations many of us would falter under. Just a thought.

Tyson Travis 5 years, 8 months ago

Both of my late parents were involved with Leo. My Dad, Ken Travis, helped by welding some of the attachments for the apparatus he laboriously used to winch his cart onto and off his tractor. My Mom, Trudy Travis, worked for Centron and wrote the 1970 Academy-Award nominated movie about him. He always fondly referred to her as "The Movie Lady." This film was syndicated by Centron and at one time was one of the highest-selling films of its type, and sold many copies to church and school groups worldwide. We showed it last year at her memorial service as an example of her best work. If you will look carefully at the movie, Leo also had another favorite "spot," in front of a Variety store on Mass, on the west side of the 1000 block. Maybe he favored the FNB location in the morning and the (TG&Y?) location in the afternoon so he could stay in the shade. (Or maybe the film crew shot him there for the lighting.) Anyway, I'm glad to see Leo remembered, he's always been an inspiration and part of our family history. Ty Travis, Pine Bluff, AR

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