The idea that Lawrence needs additional technical education opportunities is not news to Dwayne Peaslee. In fact, the longtime local union leader probably is looking at plans for a new technical education center and saying, “It’s about time.”
Peaslee has been talking about the need for such facilities for decades, which is why the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce’s decision to name its training center for Peaslee is so appropriate. He was Lawrence’s most visible spokesman for labor for many years, but he never viewed business as an adversary. He represented the plumbers and pipefitters union, but he also served on the chamber board of directors.
The value Peaslee placed on building partnerships and doing what’s best for the community should set an example for chamber and school district officials as they move forward on efforts to develop vocational and technical education opportunities in Lawrence.
According to Chamber President and CEO Greg Williams, the chamber’s plans for an adult training center aren’t complete, but it is working with a group of area financial institutions, community colleges and technical schools that are committed to making the center a reality. The chamber also hopes to blend its plans with those of the Lawrence school district, which received approval to spend $5.7 million on a new technical education facility as part of a $92.5 million bond issue.
The district planned to use that money to refurbish a building it already owns near Holcom Park but may consider adjusting its plans in order to work with the chamber, which is eyeing a site near 31st Street and Haskell Avenue. The public will get a chance to weigh in on the planning at a public forum scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday in the Lawrence High School auditorium.
School officials are right to consult the public on this issue, but working with the chamber rather than moving ahead with two separate facilities, which likely would compete at least somewhat for students and instructors, just seems to make sense.
Dwayne Peaslee always saw the value in building bridges and working together. Chamber and school officials pooling their efforts on a cooperative technical education center would further honor his legacy.