WRITER: Chad Lawhorn

Economic development leaders launch $2.5 million fundraising campaign to boost county's fortunes post pandemic

Post-pandemic life — whenever that begins — is likely to feature a race. It will be between communities looking to prosper. Local leaders are betting that the winners will be those communities that have the ability and resources to adjust to the new environment left in the wake of the pandemic. Leaders with The Chamber and the Economic Development Corporation of Lawrence and Douglas County on Tuesday ...

At KU a mask may help the unvaccinated not miss class due to quarantine, but not at Lawrence public schools

Updated at 2:09 p.m. Wednesday Students at both KU and at Lawrence public schools are required to wear masks while in classes, but university students appear to be getting a much bigger benefit from wearing those masks. KU leaders are openly telling even unvaccinated students that they are unlikely to have to miss school due to being a close contact to a fellow classmate who has tested positive, as long as ...

COVID statistics holding relatively steady as KU students return; Girod praises mask-wearing efforts

It has been just more than a week since KU students returned to classes on the Lawrence campus, but despite the thousands of new residents in town there hasn’t yet been a resulting boom in COVID cases. The latest numbers released by Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health show relatively stable COVID metrics for Douglas County, but serve as a reminder that the virus is still claiming victims. One new death was ...

Former Masonic Temple building to become haunted house; downtown plans to host $10K cornhole tourney

On any given night, the former Masonic Temple building at 10th and Massachusetts streets already is the downtown spot that produces the most fear of a pending mummy attack. (If you say otherwise, I would be interested to know what the drink specials were on that night.) Now, the eerie old building is set to become a haunted house. If you have driven by the big Egyptian Revival-style building and its huge stone ...

Rural winery to open tasting room, wine shop in downtown Lawrence

For more than a decade, Crescent Moon Winery has had a business strategy that includes people going to look at the famous Grinter fields of sunflowers in Leavenworth County and then getting a glass of wine or two at the winery just down the road. Now, there’s a twist to that strategy. Soon, people will be able to shop at Sunflower Outdoor & Bike Shop — or any other downtown retailer — and then get ...

Longtime vintage shop in downtown to close; Arts Center gives details on planned annex

There are many side effects of the pandemic, and at least one of them involves a calendar, a longtime downtown retailer has found. The Blackbird Trading Post is closing after nearly three decades in business, and its owner said the pandemic definitely played a big role. “We were closed for a coupe of months,” owner Cynthia Trask said of the earlier days of the pandemic. “I slowed down during that time, ...

KU details COVID quarantine protocols; standards reward those who are vaccinated, wear masks

There’s one test you can pass at the University of Kansas this semester that still won’t do you much good — a COVID test if you are an unvaccinated student. Students who are deemed to be a close contact of someone who has COVID will be required to quarantine, even if they can show proof of a negative COVID test, according to protocols that KU highlighted to faculty and staff on Friday. That’s a ...

Raven Book Store seeing more foot traffic in its new home on Mass. Street

Maybe you are one of the slew of people who moved to town earlier this month. If so, you should feel bad if you still have some boxes to unpack. Danny Caine and his staff at The Raven Book Store recently unpacked 13,000 books in three and half days. Of course, they’ve also been thinking about how to pull off that feat for about a year. Caine signed the letter of intent to relocate Lawrence’s ...

Organizers of Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade announce it will return to downtown this year after COVID canceled it in 2020

Grab an extra bag of oats. The Lawrence tradition of a horse-drawn Christmas parade is returning after a year off, and the horses will be traveling a couple of extra blocks this year. The organizers of downtown's Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade announced that the event will return at 11 a.m. on Dec. 4 after having been canceled last year because of COVID concerns. “We already have had quite a few entries ...

Talk is heating up on a 3,000-acre solar panel farm along the Douglas-Johnson County line; it would power 40,000 homes

There really might be a 3,000-acre solar panel farm — the largest in the state — developing along the eastern edge of Douglas County in the near future. While official plans for the project have not yet been filed, you can hear a lot of talk about the potential project — if you are willing to listen to generally boring and technical discussions about zoning code text amendments. Those are exactly the ...

KU has strong interest in vaccine mandates, but still contends state law prohibits them

The University of Kansas said Tuesday it’s highly interested in a vaccine mandate for its students, but don’t look for one to be implemented any time soon. A KU spokeswoman said the university still believes Kansas law precludes state universities from implementing vaccine mandates, and the recent FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine does nothing to change that status. “KU would strongly consider a ...

As classes begin, KU provost makes it clear she expects faculty to adhere to in-person requirements

As the University of Kansas began in-person classes today, KU faculty members were given a clear reminder that they don’t have the authority to simply switch their classes to a remote format due to COVID concerns. Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer recently sent KU faculty and staff members a memo that addressed talk around campus that “some instructors may be considering independently moving the first few weeks ...

A new downtown coffee shop that also loves water; business hopes to be hub for paddling, wading, fishing enthusiasts

Some people think if you want to go fast on the water, you need a big 150 horsepower outboard engine hanging off the back of your boat. But maybe there is another way. How about a paddle and a double espresso? There is a new coffee shop in downtown Lawrence that likes that way of thinking. Great Blue Heron is in the process of opening at 823 Massachusetts St., and when it does, it will be a mix of a coffee ...

Downtown's Liberty Hall to require proof of vaccination in order to attend live music concerts

Updated at 5:33 p.m. Thursday Concert-goers at downtown Lawrence’s Liberty Hall now will need to show proof of vaccination before they can enter the live music venue. The longtime downtown business at 644 Massachusetts St. made the announcement on its social media page Wednesday night, and I confirmed the news with management there on Thursday. Liberty Hall appears to be the first major business in Lawrence ...

LMH sees first COVID death since March; recent average age of COVID patients has been 48

Updated at 12:10 p.m. Wednesday Lawrence Memorial Hospital has had its first patient death related to COVID since March, LMH’s board of trustees was told Wednesday morning. “It is very hard to see this happening again,” Traci Hoopingarner, chief nursing officer and vice-president of clinical care, told board members. Following the meeting, a spokeswoman for LMH Health said the death occurred on ...

LMH Health to pursue partnership with University of Kansas Health System, but emphasizes that Lawrence hospital is not for sale

As Lawrence likely becomes a potential landing spot for more hospital companies, LMH Health is now ready to discuss a partnership with one of the region’s biggest and most familiar names: the University of Kansas Health System. LMH Health on Wednesday afternoon announced that it had agreed to begin exclusive discussions with the KU health system about becoming a formal partner of Lawrence’s nonprofit ...

KU leader urges mask wearing off campus too; petition organizer says KU vaccine incentives lacking

KU’s message on masks is broadening. While the University of Kansas earlier this month instituted a mask mandate for all indoor spaces on the KU campus, the university’s top emergency management official specifically asked students and staff members to wear their masks off campus as well. KU has no ability to mandate members of the KU community to wear masks when not on university property, but KU’s ...

2020 Census numbers show white population in Douglas County declined over the last decade

Douglas County’s population of white residents dropped by about 1% in the last decade, while nearly every other racial category saw growth, according to new 2020 Census data. The number of white Douglas County residents dropped by nearly 1,000 people since 2010, and as a result the percent of county residents who identify as white fell below the 80% level, likely for the first time in the county’s history. ...

Something close to an Apple store opens on south Iowa; plans for Quinton's, Arts Center other downtown news

I’m not even old enough to remember the days when a student would bring an apple to the teacher. (I’m pretty sure nothing short of an “apple-tini" was going to make my teachers feel better about me.) But my wallet and I are well aware of the trend of students today bringing Apple computers to school. It is a big thing in Lawrence, and now there is a new Apple-licensed retailer looking to capitalize on it. ...

Census stats: Lawrence still isn't a city of 100,000 people; Douglas County is 5th fastest growing county in state

Story updated at 5:26 p.m. Thursday: Lawrence is still not part of the 100,000-people club. The U.S. Census Bureau’s official population totals came out Thursday, and Lawrence didn’t hit the 100,000 level, despite City of Lawrence officials estimating earlier that we had well exceeded the mark. Lawrence’s 2020 census population stands at 94,934 people. The city of Lawrence earlier this year had ...