WRITER: Chad Lawhorn

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., is pictured Thursday, July 7, 2016.

City's sales tax report shows drop from pandemic; so far, Lawrence numbers are better than elsewhere

It could have been worse. It is a phrase I utter every time I leave a homemade haircut with both ears, and it also may echo in the city’s finance department after Lawrence leaders received their first sales tax check that has been slashed by the pandemic. The city’s May sales tax collections were down 7.1% compared with the same period a year ago, which amounts to about a $150,000 hit to the city’s ...

Lawrence's unemployment remains high, but that's only part of the problem, new numbers show

Perhaps you noticed that May hasn’t been great on many fronts. (Granted, I have figured out how to gain weight despite having my mouth mostly covered, which is surely an advancement in ingenuity.) When it comes to unemployment, the news isn’t great anywhere, but there are some particularly troubling signs in Douglas County. In short, Douglas County’s unemployment rate is growing faster than most urban ...

LMH virus numbers continue to improve, but financial losses are stark; CEO pay cut by $100K due to 2019 finances

There has been good news on the medical front, if not necessarily on the money front, at Lawrence's hospital. At a Wednesday meeting, members of the hospital’s nonprofit board of trustees heard about millions in dollar losses related to the COVID-19 disruptions and reduced the total compensation of LMH Health's chief executive officer by more than $100,000. But it also heard that a relatively mild number of ...

On first day they were allowed, most downtown restaurants didn't reopen dining rooms; more did so in southern Lawrence

In-person dining in Lawrence didn’t make a lot of noise on Monday — the first day local regulations allowed eateries to reopen their dining rooms — unless you count the leaf blower. Along Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence, I counted only three restaurants that had their dining rooms open for lunch: Pita Pit, Jefferson’s and The Jayhawker inside the Eldridge Hotel. There was a bit more ...

As pandemic fallout hit Lawrence in April, home prices soared; sales remained high too, but possible signs of weakness ahead

Maybe Lawrence homebuyers in April already had a key aspect of our new lives figured out: If forced to live with a stay-at-home order, you will want to do so in a better home. (Pandemic philosophy: Your nothingness becomes smaller if you do it in a larger space.) Whether it was that realization or something else, local home sales were strong in April, despite any pandemic-related fears. In a sign that may be ...

Sunflower Outdoor & Bike looking to get into coffee business; two eateries won't reopen due to pandemic losses

Unless you are really good at riding with no hands, having a cup of coffee while on a bicycle might be tough. (Obviously, one hand must be free to keep the admirers of the spandex outfit at a distance.) But that doesn’t mean coffee and cycling don’t go together. Lawrence’s largest bike shop may show how. Sunflower Outdoor & Bike Shop has filed plans with City Hall to add a coffee bar to the ...

Casey's eyes west edge of Lawrence as it files plans to build third store in the city

A combination of pizza, doughnuts and gasoline have been known to jump-start me on occasion. Now, the trio may do the same for a planned west Lawrence shopping center. Casey’s General Store has filed plans to build its third store in Lawrence, this one near the Bob Billings Parkway interchange on the South Lawrence Trafficway. Prior to August, the Casey’s convenience store chain didn’t have any locations ...

Douglas County's unemployment, now at nearly 16%, continues to set records

Douglas County’s unemployment rate is now estimated to be at about 16%, which makes it more than 2.5 times higher than at any point in the modern era. KU economist and researcher Donna Ginther continues to use state data to make weekly estimates of unemployment rates for every county in the state. For the week ending May 2, Douglas County had an unemployment rate of 15.7%. It continues to have the second ...

Portion of NCAA report indicates a third KU basketball player was connected to improper payments

Until Thursday, Silvio De Sousa and Billy Preston were publicly regarded as the only Jayhawks involved in the current NCAA allegations against the University of Kansas. But a section of the NCAA’s response, released by KU on Thursday, indicates that there may have been a third. A heavily redacted portion of the report raises questions about whether a representative of former KU player Cheick Diallo received ...

Face-mask program being developed for restaurant workers; some believe up to 40% of local restaurants won't reopen

Lawrence restaurants aren’t fully open yet, but already some of you have been asking whether their employees will be required to wear masks when they do start serving dine-in customers again. Formal guidelines haven’t yet been announced by local public health officials, but if a group of restaurant leaders have their way, diners are going to be seeing masks at every turn and table. Rick Martin, co-chair ...

LMH furloughs more than 220 employees as it deals with declining revenues related to pandemic

Updated at 12:15 p.m. Monday More than 220 LMH Health employees will temporarily be losing their paychecks as the hospital struggles to deal with revenue declines of more than $1 million per week since the pandemic began. LMH confirmed Monday morning that it has notified 221 employees that they will be furloughed for various periods while the nonprofit hospital works to deal with revenue shortfalls largely ...

A look at what retailers reopened on the first day they could; nonprofits hope new Giving Tuesday Now day takes off

At downtown Lawrence’s Rally House, the hoped-for outcome is right there in its name: a rally. But shoppers for the most part didn’t even stir, let alone rally, on the first day that many “nonessential retailers” were allowed to reopen following an easing of Douglas County’s stay-at-home orders. At about 2:45 p.m. on Monday, a clerk at the sportswear shop Rally House said the store had one customer ...

Spring Parade of Homes goes to a virtual format this year; builders talk about pandemic impacts

I know what the prominent style changes have been in my quarantine-era home: claw marks on the inside of the front door and the elimination of all full-length mirrors. (Wear pants, people.) Normally, though, I’m getting up to date on new housing styles at the Lawrence Spring Parade of Homes. The event — originally scheduled for last weekend and this weekend — is still giving home-lovers a peek at new ...

A downtown boutique is about to get four times larger, while pushing back against online shopping

The downtown Lawrence boutique Striped Cow is getting much bigger. (Join the club. As the saying goes these days, I’ve social distanced from everything but the refrigerator door.) But owner David Jess is betting this is an expansion to get excited about, hopefully even showing how brick-and-mortar retail can compete with online retailers. As we reported in September, Jess struck a deal to buy the former ...

Douglas County unemployment projected to be nearly 15%; self-employed still waiting for answers on benefits

Story updated 5:50 p.m. Thursday Douglas County’s estimated unemployment rate is now up to 14.8%, but the number of county residents making new unemployment filings has hit its lowest level since mid-March, when the pandemic began shuttering businesses across the state. The estimated unemployment rate for the county is up 1.2 percentage points from a 13.6% rate last week, as estimated by the University of ...

Lawrence firm giving away 500 face shields and seeking to prove you can still find PPE, if you know where to look

The items that Barb Gruber sells through her Lawrence-based promotional products business — key chains, T-shirts and other company giveaways — ordinarily won’t do much to improve a person’s health. But as Gruber and quite a few other people have noticed, these aren’t ordinary times. Instead, in these strange times, an industry primarily known for providing businesses with trinkets emblazoned with ...

New numbers show who is dying of COVID-19 in Kansas; elderly are most likely to die, but middle-aged most likely to contract disease

We now have more detailed data on who is dying from COVID-19 in Kansas. As many suspected, the elderly are suffering the highest number of deaths, but that doesn’t mean you have to be old to get the virus. People between the ages of 35 and 44 have been the most likely to get the disease. As we reported last week, Kansas Department of Health and Environment officials hadn’t been reporting on the age of ...

Sales tax numbers don't yet show the big drop to come; Kansans saw their earnings rise in 2019, but at below-average rate

We kind of are in a Road Runner cartoon moment. It is that point of the episode where Wile E. Coyote is running toward the cliff. We all know he is going to drop off the cliff, and, surely after all these episodes, he does, too. That’s where Lawrence and the state are when it comes to sales tax collections. The cliff is getting very near. The Kansas Department of Revenue released its latest sales tax numbers ...

Local unemployment now near 14%, but another COVID chart is encouraging for Douglas County

News and notes from around town, with a heavy dose of COVID-19 numbers, and information on a furlough policy that has some Hallmark employees upset. — The unemployment numbers are still grim for Douglas County, but now we have more company. The latest estimate compiled by researchers at the University of Kansas pegs unemployment in Douglas County at 13.6%. That’s up from 11.3% a week ago, according to ...

Developers file new set of plans for south Lawrence shopping center, adding apartment complex to the mix

Someday, we will shop again, and developers are still hopeful that it will be at a new shopping center just south of the South Lawrence Trafficway and U.S. Highway 59 interchange. Another set of plans have been filed for the long-debated shopping center, and this time they have a major twist — the shopping center is smaller, but the plans now call for an apartment complex to be built next to it. “It is ...