WRITER: Chad Lawhorn

State gives KU employees more time to make insurance choice as LMH, Blue Cross Blue Shield remain deadlocked

A financial battle between Lawrence’s only hospital and the state’s largest health insurance network has left thousands of area residents uncertain about whether they should keep their longstanding health insurance plans for 2022. But University of Kansas employees and other State of Kansas workers have been given a temporary reprieve on figuring out whether Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas and LMH Health ...

The economy of higher education is broken, but is KU taking the right steps to rebuild?

KU Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer had been on the Lawrence campus for a grand total of nine days before she started working to shut it down. It was the beginning of the pandemic, of course, and it won’t be a time any university administrator soon forgets. But when Bichelmeyer looks back at that time, there is another event a few weeks later that often stands out. It was a conversation with a Kansas City friend ...

KU to require COVID vaccination for all employees by Dec. 8; move needed to comply with federal order for contractors

All University of Kansas employees will need to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8 or risk losing their jobs, KU announced Friday. Chancellor Douglas Girod said it is now clear that KU must comply with an executive order from President Joe Biden that requires full vaccination of employees who are working on projects or at locations involved in completing federal contracts. “Because of the scope of the federal ...

LMH, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas still unable to reach agreement on 2022 deal to keep hospital in network

LMH Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas met Friday afternoon but came up with no breakthrough on a plan to keep Lawrence’s lone hospital as part of the state’s largest health insurance network in 2022. Early Friday evening, LMH provided a statement to stakeholders saying that it has rejected BCBS of Kansas’ offer for a 2022 contract, but that the Topeka-based insurance company — the largest in ...

From a grocery store to a national security center, KU leaders reveal more details about West Campus plans

A plan to make KU’s West Campus a business park with several thousand jobs is advancing and now includes proposals for a grocery store, 300 units of high-end housing, restaurants and other pieces of development. A “national security innovation center” that would work on everything from cybersecurity to military projects also is envisioned at the site, and KU leaders confirmed they recently applied for a ...

Leaders warn LMH may not be part of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas network in 2022; two companies in tough negotiations

Story updated at 5:49 p.m. Wednesday: The state’s largest health insurance company and Lawrence’s only hospital are in contentious contract negotiations that may result in LMH Health no longer accepting Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas as a preferred provider. Leaders of LMH Health on Wednesday warned area residents that there is a real possibility in 2022 that the hospital and its doctor's offices ...

Some Douglas County voters have mistakenly received 2 ballots for upcoming elections

Douglas County’s top election official has begun notifying about 1,200 county voters that they may have incorrectly received an extra ballot in the mail for the upcoming city and school board elections. But Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said Wednesday that he’s confident the ballot mistake — caused by a third-party printing and mailing company — would not affect the operation of November’s local ...

KU to host public tour, hike at Baldwin Woods Forest Preserve

Members of the public will have a chance later this month to tour one of Douglas County’s most pristine woodland areas as part of a University of Kansas open house. The Kansas Biological Survey & Center for Ecological Research at KU will host a public tour of the Baldwin Woods Forest Preserve from 10 a.m. to noon on Oct. 30. The Baldwin Woods Forest Preserve, which is between Baldwin City and Lawrence ...

Dance studio opens along 23rd Street; Lawrence's middling ranking in small cities report; art gallery reopens downtown

Some news and notes from around town: — I’ve had many dancing partners who I am sure would have enthusiastically endorsed the idea of a “virtual dance.” While their feet may love the idea, it is not an ideal arrangement for a dance studio, yet many studios found themselves in such a situation during the height of the pandemic. “It was very rough,” Rachel Weitekamp, owner and director of Sunflower ...

In addition to its large solar project, NextEra is considering a wind farm for southwest Douglas County, parts of Franklin County

The same energy firm proposing to build a 3,000-acre solar farm in southeast Douglas County also is exploring the feasibility of building a large wind turbine farm in southwest Douglas County, I’ve confirmed. Florida-based NextEra Energy has begun reaching out to large landowners in southwest Douglas County and northwest Franklin County about a project dubbed the Larksong Wind Energy Center. “We are just ...

After 50 years, KU homecoming and Alumni Band a real family affair for Bob Foster

Thanks to COVID, it had been nearly two years since former director of bands Bob Foster had climbed that ladder with baton in hand to conduct the KU Alumni Band on the football field. Not that Foster was particularly worried about the layoff. The organizers, after all, had given him the song to conduct in advance — and he had heard of it. Maybe you have too: “I’m a Jayhawk.” While members of the ...

Plans filed for senior living community to locate on one of the last vacant lots of Bauer Farms in northwest Lawrence

The dichotomy of retirees living across the street from one of the city’s largest high schools is about to get deeper in northwest Lawrence. Plans have been filed to build another retirement complex — this one with an Alzheimer’s facility — in the Bauer Farm development near Free State High School. A St. Louis-based company is seeking to build 53 units of assisted living and 22 units for residents in ...

PHOTOS: Budweiser Clydesdales attract large crowd at fairgrounds as part of first responder thank-you event

Several hundred people were at the Douglas County Fairgrounds on Thursday evening as the Budweiser Clydesdales trotted around the facility. The famed team of horses and their beer wagon were in Lawrence as part of an event hosted by O'Malley Beverage. The Lawrence-based alcohol distributor was named one of the top wholesale distributors in the entire country by Budweiser's parent company. As a reward, the ...

County's COVID numbers drop to Code Green, but health department doesn't give green light to remove masks

In recent days, Douglas County has crossed a COVID threshold that at one point would have led to celebration: We’re in Code Green, the lowest COVID risk tier established by county health leaders. But don’t celebrate quite yet, and certainly not without a mask. While the Code Green designation is a sign that COVID cases have fallen to recent lows, the local health department is backtracking from its ...

United Way of Douglas County leader leaves as group works to figure out its future role

The president and CEO of the United Way of Douglas County has left his position, and the nonprofit organization is unsure of how or whether it will fill the spot. Jeffrey Cornish departed as leader of the organization on Monday, Peggy Johnson, interim CEO of the United Way of Douglas County, confirmed to the Journal-World. Johnson said Cornish left the position as part of a decision by the board to undertake ...

Helicopter company operating multimillion dollar dealership at Lawrence airport, has plans to grow employees, facilities

Lawrence is a town that likes to go round and round about lots of things, so maybe it is appropriate that it is gaining a national reputation for the ultimate whirling machine — helicopters. While locals may picture airplanes when they think of the Lawrence Municipal Airport, the airfield in North Lawrence actually may have more of a national — or even international reputation — for helicopters. The ...

City's sales tax collections soar in latest period; more than $3 million budget surplus now on the books

My Fourth of July party was big, but not this big. Something caused a retail explosion in July that has contributed to a more than $3 million budget surplus at Lawrence City Hall, according to the latest sales tax reports from the state. The new reports are technically the September sales tax reports, but due to normal delays in the state's reporting system, they largely reflect spending that occurred in July. ...

Rep. LaTurner tells Lawrence crowd he 'will never support' COVID vaccine mandates; maskless man escorted from forum

U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner in Lawrence on Thursday declined to say whether he supported longstanding vaccine mandates for schoolchildren, as he was pressed on why states could mandate vaccines for certain childhood diseases but not COVID-19. At the forum, LaTurner — a Kansas Republican who represents Lawrence as part of the 2nd Congressional District — told the crowd at the Lawrence Public Library that he ...

Budweiser Clydesdales coming to Lawrence to honor pandemic volunteers, first-responders; local Bud distributor ranked tops in the country

Some of the hundreds of volunteers who staffed the COVID-19 vaccination clinics at the Douglas County fairgrounds will be back there next week, but this time they won’t have to deliver any shots. Good thing, too, because the line of visitors that will be at the fairgrounds this time would require a pretty big needle. Lawrence’s Anheuser-Busch distributor is bringing the famed Budweiser Clydesdales to the ...

KU again seeking director for Dole Institute; previous hire pursuing other opportunities

The University of Kansas is once again looking for a director for the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics after plans to hire a longtime administrator and fundraiser have fallen through. Donors and other stakeholders of the institute on KU’s West Campus were recently informed that Erica Terry, who was announced in late August as the incoming director, has decided not to take the position. “Today, I’m ...