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Bullwhip, glass-walking school to open in North Lawrence; city to sign settlement to end airport sewer project

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My wife hasn't necessarily suggested I go join the circus, but she has mentioned something about shooting me out of a cannon. Well, no promises that you'll learn the cannon trick, but a new North Lawrence business is planning on teaching people the life of a circus performer.

The Last Carnival plans to open next month at 315 N. Second St., one of the stone buildings just north of the downtown Kansas River bridges and next to Johnny's Tavern. The business bills itself as the "first and only school for circus arts and aerial dance in Lawrence." I have nothing to dispute that claim, since I don't think my wife's efforts with a bullwhip to get me to pick up my dirty clothes technically qualify as a circus art.

Plans for bullwhip classes — seriously — are in the works at the Last Carnival. The business also plans to have classes on walking on glass, laying on a bed of nails, and dancing with fire. All those classes fall into the category of what the business calls "sideshow workshops." The more mainstream classes will be ones such as aerial acrobatics, trapeze, contortion exercises, and advanced hula hooping.

"I have always been interested in the circus," said Sihka Ann Destroy, owner of the new business. "I figured I'm probably not the only person in Lawrence interested in this."

By the way, that name is pronounced kind of like "Seek and Destroy," if you were stumbling over it.

Destroy said she thinks the school may attract people who are serious about joining up with a circus or carnival, but she thinks a large portion of her business will come from people who are looking for an alternative way to exercise.

"I've already had a group of ladies who do Zumba classes who think this will be a unique way to work out," Destroy said. "Instead of running a marathon or lifting weights, you can say that you work out on the trapeze. How fun is that?"

One of the classes that Destroy expects to be popular is something called AcroYoga. Based on what I've read, it involves everything from massage to handstands to holding people up in the air with your legs and other such activities that would be fun to break out at your next party. Click here to see more, and be sure to watch the videos.

As for the danger level involved in all this, I'm not sure I can really speak to that. Destroy said there certainly will be a progression of classes required for certain activities. For example, trapeze training will start just a few feet off the ground, although the building will be equipped with aerial equipment that reaches 15 feet in height. The trapeze work, however, won't be of the flying kind. Instead, it will focus on teaching people how to do certain flips and hanging moves, all with a gymnastics floor and crash mats below. Precautions will be taken in other classes as well. For example, the fire dancing, Destroy said, will teach people the technique of the dance, but without the fire.

Destroy has attended various circus schools, but she is not an expert in many of these activities, so she is bringing in instructors for most of the classes. Some of the performers at Lawrence's Busker Fest will be among the faculty at the school. Destroy said classes likely will range from about $8 to $25 per class, and students normally will be required to sign up for four to six weeks worth of classes at a time.

Destroy plans to have a public open house Feb. 1.

In other news and notes from around town:

• It hasn't exactly been like lying on a bed of nails, but a project to install a new sewer system at the Lawrence Municipal Airport has been a difficult one. As we previously have reported, crews have been installing about a 6,000-gallon underground sewage holding tank at the airport. But the process took much longer than expected. Work began in May 2011, and was expected to be completed about 80 days later. But when crews dug the deep hole for the tank — it is about 25 feet — they encountered large amounts of water.

At that point, a dispute began to brew between the city's engineers and the construction company, Schmidtlein Excavating of Topeka. There was disagreement over whether the construction company should have reasonably expected the large amounts of water it encountered at the job site. Long story short, it took until October 2013 for the project to be completed.

Now the question has become whether there will be any legal ramifications from the project. It appears there won't, because city commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting will consider approving a settlement agreement with Schmidtlein Excavating. The agreement calls for the city to pay the construction company an extra $24,777 for extra work required to complete the project. That brings the project's total to about $435,000. The city also is agreeing to accept the current condition of the storage tank, which has begun to list in the hole. The holding tank is about 15 inches out of plumb, according to a city report. The condition will make it necessary to modify future pumping equipment that will be attached to the tank. The main part of the settlement agreement is that both sides essentially agree not to sue the other over this project.

In case you had forgotten, the sewer project was designed to increase the airport's attractiveness to aviation-related businesses that may want to locate at the North Lawrence facility. Back in 2011, there were a couple of companies that had expressed an interest, but at last check, economic conditions have put those projects on hold. Airport leaders, though, remain confident the improved sewer capacity will open up more opportunities for the airport.

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  • Comments

    Matthew Herbert 3 months ago

    I've always felt that fire-breathing, sword-swallowing, glass walking, giant unicycle riding, nail-into-nose hammering and other busker style talents are awesome to observe but would be awful painful to learn. In much the same respect as "if at first you don't succeed, skydiving isn't for you". The learning curve on sword swallowing is, shall we say, "very sharp". Best of luck to Sikha for starting an against the grain style business.

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