WRITER: Chad Lawhorn

Aviation company in rural Douglas County files plans for its fifth major expansion in recent years

There aren’t big business jets that land on the grass runway at the Vinland airport. But there sure are a lot of jobs landing at the country airstrip between Baldwin City and Lawrence. About every couple of years, it seems like McFarlane Aviation builds another 20,000-square-foot building, or more, to house more jobs for a booming business that supplies replacement parts for airplanes across the country. ...

$28 million apartment complex with 400-plus bedrooms proposed for far south Lawrence

After a more than 20-year wait for the completion of the eastern leg of the South Lawrence Trafficway, it was only natural to wonder what that bypass project would draw to the area. We are getting a pretty clear answer on one front now: large new apartment complexes. Plans have been filed for a $28 million, 400-plus bedroom apartment complex along the eastern leg of the SLT. The project is slated to go next to ...

Organizers to turn St. Patrick's Day Parade into a "reverse" parade; downtown bar and restaurant converts to Irish theme

There have been a few times that I’ve wished for a “reverse” St. Patrick’s Day Parade. (Reverse hitting “post” on that Facebook photo, reverse getting too close to the Sandbar float, reverse the hypothesis that all types of green dye are easily washable.) That’s not remotely close to the type of reverse St. Patrick’s Day Parade that will happen in Lawrence this year, but organizers of the major ...

If Blue Cross Blue Shield doesn't pay more, LMH may ask state employees to consider a different insurance provider

Leaders at LMH Health are convinced the state’s largest health insurance company pays LMH less for medical care than hospitals in places like Topeka receive for providing the same type of care. LMH leaders said this past week that they’ve launched new negotiations with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas to correct the financial discrepancy. And some hospital officials indicated they were willing to get ...

West Lawrence hamburger restaurant moving, getting into ice cream business

I don’t care how cold it is, it is perfectly appropriate to plan for more ice cream. (I’ll have to put a bed on the porch, but I absolutely can fit another freezer in the house.) A Lawrence hamburger shop indeed is planning for more ice cream, and it will be moving to a new location to make it happen. Burgers By Biggs soon will be moving to a new west Lawrence location at Bob Billings Parkway and Wakarusa ...

Longtime downtown bread shop moves into bigger space, gets into the sandwich business

When somebody tells me their product is the greatest thing since sliced bread, I usually say: “Challenge accepted. Bring me a loaf of fresh bread and four pounds of butter.” But what do you do to improve upon sliced bread? A longtime downtown bread shop thinks it knows: Get a bigger space and start using fresh bread to make some sandwiches, among other improvements. Great Harvest Bread Company has moved ...

County, LMH set to vaccinate 2,000 people today; future COVID events may vaccinate 5,000 per day

Douglas County health leaders expect to provide COVID vaccines to 2,000 people in five hours today, the largest vaccination effort yet in the county, and a bigger 5,000-person event is on the horizon. Members of the LMH Health board of trustees were told Wednesday that today’s vaccination event at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds marks a new milestone for vaccination efforts in the county. LMH Health is ...

LMH CEO gets large pay increase as hospital posts better financial results in 2020

The finances at LMH Health have improved, and now so too will the compensation package for its chief executive officer. The board of trustees for the nonprofit hospital and health system on Wednesday approved a 30% increase in compensation for LMH Health President and CEO Russ Johnson, as the hospital posted a modest profit for 2020, but saw finances bounce back significantly from a major 2019 downturn. The ...

More rolling blackouts possible Tuesday night, Wednesday morning, Evergy says; some Lawrence residents without power for several hours

Story updated at 6:31 p.m. Tuesday It was more of a stalled blackout than a rolling blackout at the home of west Lawrence resident Roger Powell on Tuesday. Powell was one of about 270,000 customers in Kansas and western Missouri who were subjected to temporary electrical power outages — rolling blackouts — that were designed to alleviate pressure on the region's power grid. The power grid is under strain ...

Nearly half of all homeowners should expect large jump in taxable value of their homes, latest county numbers show

While we are dealing with a multitude of problems related to living in a deep freeze, Douglas County homeowners soon may get a reminder that living in an oven can be challenging too. Indeed, Lawrence’s housing market is a bit like a rapidly heating oven, and property owners later this month will be getting a letter from the county appraiser’s office reminding them of the costs that come with it. In short, ...

Evergy begins rolling blackouts for Kansas as regional power supply strained by cold

Residents across Lawrence  — and the state — had their electricity temporarily shut off Monday afternoon, as frigid temperatures throughout the central U.S. caused utilities to use rolling blackouts to ease strain on the region’s power grid.  Evergy — the predominant electric provider in Lawrence and the state’s largest utility — said it had shut off power to about 60,000 customers for 30 to 60 ...

Pandemic pushes retail vacancy rates in downtown Lawrence to historically high levels, report shows

Everybody knows that the pandemic battered some of our favorite businesses in 2020. Now, we are getting one of our first glimpses at just how many. The answer in downtown Lawrence is: A historically high number. Downtown Lawrence’s retail vacancy rate at the end of 2020 was 12.5%, according to the annual report from the commercial real estate firm Colliers International, which operates an office in Lawrence. ...

Waxman Candles undertakes remodel after 50 years; other news and notes on downtown happenings

I don’t know what people are doing with so many candles during the pandemic. (They definitely present some challenges. I caught three masks on fire just trying to blow out my birthday cake.) Regardless, business is booming at downtown Lawrence’s Waxman Candles. It is banging and clanking, too. Waxman Candles at 609 Massachusetts St. has a major building project underway. For a while, it looked like the ...

New winery in downtown Lecompton inspired by fruit, history and crazy vacation ideas

It is rare that I ever remember the ending of a story that begins with the question "What are we going to do with those 30 bottles of wine on the shelf?" But Troy Clark remembers the end of his story, and it actually is on display as a new winery in downtown Lecompton. Clark and his wife, Vickie, have opened Empty Nester's Winery in Lecompton, which of course, is in northwest Douglas County and about a ...

Midco to close local sports channel, largely ending Lawrence's foray into local television

There’s tough news on both the local television front and the local sports scene today. Lawrence’s cable company has confirmed that it is closing down its local sports channel that broadcasts everything from high school games to a host of KU sporting events. After word of the pending closure started spreading this morning, a Midco representative confirmed that MidcoSN Kansas’ last day on the air will be ...

Numbers suggest Lawrence retailers had a slow start to the holiday shopping season

January sure seems like it didn’t get the memo that 2021 was supposed to be a bounce-back year. Lawrence City Hall got its first sales tax check of the new year, and the best you can say about it is at least it didn’t bounce. It wasn’t that bad, but it also wasn’t anything to brag about. Lawrence posted a 9.1% drop in sales tax collections for the month, compared to the same period a year ago. That is ...

Lawrence home sales were up in 2020, and so were prices

There’s a joke circulating among Lawrence real estate agents these days: Tom Brady has been in more Super Bowls than Lawrence has houses for sale. “It is not quite that bad yet, but it is close,” said John Huntington Jr., president of the Lawrence Board of Realtors. Hopefully the next punchline isn’t that you need Brady’s wallet to buy a house in Lawrence. Lawrence’s real estate market finished ...

By one measure, Lawrence has seen two decades of job losses in a single year

About one out of every 10 jobs in Lawrence and Douglas County disappeared in 2020, according to the latest report from the Kansas Department of Labor. That’s already a pretty striking statistic on our pandemic times, but there’s an even more startling one if you dig deeper into the numbers: Douglas County has seen 22 years worth of job gains evaporate in a single year. When the state recently released ...

Secondhand store in North Lawrence features eclectic mix of new and old items

Finally, I have found a piano I’m qualified to play. Its keys are frozen and its upper cabinet has been converted into a wine rack. It is one of the items in North Lawrence’s new secondhand shop, Reclaimed by Michele. Owner Michele Johnson says the shop at 628 N. Second St. will be a place to find slightly funky items that have been reclaimed in new ways. The piano is an example of that. But Johnson said ...

Kennedy Glass undergoes expansion; updates on East Lawrence, Warehouse Arts District projects

I know one sure-fire way to grow the revenues of a glass company is to pay for my green fees, buy me a beverage and point me toward the fairway with the most homes. Evidently there are other ways too, as an East Lawrence glass company is undertaking a major expansion. I’ve also got updates on several other East Lawrence development projects, but let’s start with glass. Kennedy Glass has undertaken an ...