City solidifies plans for downtown ice rink; Kansas ranks well in student debt measure; and a Royal day

I may or may not have said when the Royals reach the World Series I’ll do a figure skating routine in a blue, sequin-studded leotard. My son is checking the tape for that and other statements. (I was not aware he had wiretapped the house, but now it makes a lot more sense why he read all those Nixon memoirs as a toddler.) Regardless, I do have news about the city’s plans for an ice skating rink in downtown.

Leaders with the city’s parks and recreation department recently said they are confident the ice rink will be open for business by Nov. 28, which is the Friday after Thanksgiving. If you remember, the ice rink will be a temporary attraction that will be built in the plaza area between the library and the city’s parking garage.

Crews will begin building a temporary plywood platform for the artificial ice to rest upon. The designated area will be the top tier of the library plaza, which is the tier closest to Vermont Street. The city plans to rent skates for $3 per pair. The city plans to require people to rent skates from the city rather than bring their own skates. Jimmy Gibbs, the parks and recreation manager overseeing the project, said that’s because skates need to be very sharp to operate properly on the artificial ice surface. The city is concerned skaters would bring dull skates to the rink, and would be disassitified with the experience. There is an advantage to using the city’s skates. They’ll be the ski boot type that have latches that allow users to easily put the skates on and take them off.

“There won’t be the 15 feet of shoe-laces you have to mess with,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs said the $3 rental fee will allow users to skate as long as they would like. The city will have skates for all ages, he said.

I’m still checking on the hours that the rink will be open, but look for the ice rink to be a part of the downtown lighting ceremony that takes place on Nov. 28. Parks and recreation officials said they have ordered extra lights to decorate the the plaza area of the library, including a couple of large snowflakes and a string of lights that will hang above the rink. (There you go. It probably will be impossible for me to do my figure skating routine. I don’t want to get tangled up in the beautiful lights when I do my jumps.)

In other news and notes from around town:

• As my family busily compiles the list of everything I said I would do if the Royals make the World Series, I’m beginning to worry about how to finance all of this. (However, I’m almost certain I didn’t say I would add a wing to the house for shoes, purses and bulk chocolate, although that would save us on storage unit rental fees.) Regardless, maybe I should try to figure out how I could use a student loan to do all this. A new study says Kansas is one of the better states in the country to have a student loan.

The financial Web site WalletHub has conducted a study that finds Kansas is the 7th best state in the country to have student debt. What it means by “best” are states where students feel less pain from their student debts.

The study looked at several factors, including amount of debt per student, number of loans past due, the unemployment rate for young people, and how student debt averages compared to average incomes in the state. Kansas didn’t top any of those categories, but it was better than average in almost all of them.

The average amount of student debt in Kansas ranked as the 17th lowest in the country. The state’s unemployment rate for people ages 25 to 34 was the 13th lowest in the country. The amount of student debt as a percentage of average incomes in the state was the 10th lowest in the country. Those are all pretty positive numbers for the state, and more particularly positive for Lawrence, where education is our largest industry. No one likes how much debt students are having to take on these days, but it should be an advantage for KU if it can point to numbers that show students have less debt here, and that the state provides a good environment to comfortably pay it off.

In case you are curious, Utah was the best-ranked state,and Nebraska was the lone Plains state to finish higher than Kansas. It finished 5th. Rhode Island ranked last in the survey.

• A quick reminder that the city is hosting a forum tonight (Thursday) to discuss issues surrounding the 0.2 percent sales tax proposal to pay for a police headquarters. The forum, which will feature the police chief, is set from 7 to 8 p.m. at Liberty Memorial Central Middle School, 1400 Massachusetts St. The chief will make a presentation and answer questions.

• In case you hadn’t heard, the Kansas City Royals are going to the World Series. This column is called Town Talk, and that is what the town is talking about today, but I don’t normally write about sports. I hope you’ll pardon the detour.

It would be easy to say I’ve been a Royals fan my entire life, but it probably would be more accurate to say I’ve been one since 1980. I remember George Brett standing with his arms raised at second base when he topped the .400 mark. I remember his blast into the upper deck in Yankee Stadium. For some reason, I vividly remember standing outside our barn with my father after the Royals clinched the A.L. pennant in 1980, and I just kept telling him I couldn’t believe we were finally going to the World Series. I remember a lot more conversations with my grandmother, who was the real baseball fan in the family. Still is. She’ll soon turn 95, and she has put in some late nights during these playoffs.

Of course, I remember 1985 well. I was in junior high. My son today is in junior high. That’s the thought I had Wednesday as I literally jumped up and down in my driveway after hearing Denny make the final call. Someone shot off fireworks within 30 seconds of the final out. (Yes, my neighborhood has a ready supply of fireworks at all times.) My son ran out of the basement TV room about the time the echo of the firecrackers had subsided. He’ll remember this day.

Despite 29 years of evidence to the contrary, the circle really does remain unbroken.

Go Royals.