• A Lawrence city official and a local apartment project received Ad Astra Awards this year at the Kansas Housing Conference in Manhattan.
Margene Swarts, assistant director of development services for the city of Lawrence, was named Affordable Housing Trail Blazer of 2012. Swarts, who has more than 20 years experience in the affordable housing industry, was honored for her role in developing affordable housing and infrastructure in Lawrence’s low- to moderate-income neighborhoods. The Ad Astra Award highlighted Swarts’ accomplishments from 2005 to 2011 when she helped transition the city’s HOME funded community housing development organization to the award-winning Lawrence Community Housing Trust, or LCHT, program, which is the first land trust program in Kansas. LCHT sells homes to qualified homeowners at lower-than-average prices because the buyer finances the cost of the home, not the lot it sits on. In accepting the award, Swarts noted the efforts of other entities that partner with the city on affordable housing projects, including Tenants to Homeowners, the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority and Habitat for Humanity.
Also honored at the conference was Poehler Loft Apartments in Lawrence, which received the 2012 Ad Astra Award for Innovation in Housing and Community Development. The award honors the development, which converted an abandoned warehouse into 49 affordable loft-style apartments and hub for local artists. Accepting the award was the project’s developer, Tony Krsnich, who emphasized the impact the Poehler project had on the surrounding community by both providing affordable housing and triggering redevelopment of a nearby cider mill. Additional partners in the Poehler renovation included attorney Mike Hodges, Rosemann & Associates and Rau Construction.
• Happy Shirt Printing Co. recently signed a deal to move into the former Riverfront Harley Davidson location on the corner of North Second and Lincoln streets in North Lawrence. Justin Shiney, a co-owner of the approximately 2-year-old T-shirt business, said even in a slow economy there is demand for shirts with words and pictures on them. The company does everything from T-shirts for youth sports teams to larger accounts for corporations that want to give you a free shirt so you can become a walking billboard for them. The company currently has seven employees, but with the larger facility, Shiney said he is hopeful the company will be able to land larger contracts that will allow for additional hiring.
• Scott Zaremba, president of Zarco 66, Lawrence, was elected president of the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association of Kansas during the association’s 98th annual convention Sept. 17 at The Oread hotel. Zaremba has been a member of the association’s executive committee for the past three years. He also represents PMCA as a board of director for the Petroleum Marketers Association of America.
The family-owned and operated Zarco was established in 1968 by Scott’s father, Stan Zaremba, and originally marketed refined petroleum products to farmers, small businesses and government entities throughout the Midwest. Scott has spent his entire life in the energy business. Today, the company includes nine retail locations, has transportation and construction divisions, and owns Sandbar Subs and Hurricane Car Washes.
• Bridge Haven Care Cottage will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. Thursday for its newly renovated assisted living home at 3109 W. 26th St. According to Executive Director Robert Wilson, the renovated Care Cottage represents a new concept for family-style assisted living in Lawrence. Amenities at the facility include two additional private bedrooms, a sunroom, a secured backyard with a walking path, a fully accessible bathroom with a roll-in shower, and an enhanced security system. Bridge Haven also operates Bridge Haven Memory Care at 1126 Hilltop Drive.
• The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services recently announced that two Lawrence facilities that provide intermediate care for those with intellectual disabilities received a perfect score during their inspections on Aug. 23. The facilities that had no deficiencies were Atchison House, 3916 Atchison Way, and Monterey House, 1121 Monterey Way. The Survey, Certification and Credentialing Commission is required to survey all adult care homes within 15 months. Licensed adult care homes include skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, residential care facilities, home plus, adult day care and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
• Marilyn Dobski of Lawrence will be the first recipient of The Rosie Award, established by Lawrence Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build program. The award will be presented Oct. 12 at the Women Build Luncheon at Maceli’s. The Rosie, named for Rosie the Riveter, is given to a local woman who stands out among her peers and empowers women to succeed in whatever they choose to do.
Marilyn Dobski and her husband, Tom, are rooted in the Lawrence community. The Dobskis, who opened their first McDonald’s in Leavenworth in 1981, now own 12 McDonald’s restaurants in five counties. Marilyn has become a visible leader in both local business and the community and has dedicated herself to giving back through many local groups, including the Douglas County Community Foundation, the Lawrence Arts Center, the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, Lawrence Memorial Hospital, the Lawrence Schools Foundation and Corpus Christi Catholic Church and School. She has won numerous awards for her business leadership and service to the community, including induction into the Lawrence Business Hall of Fame in 2010.