WRITER: Dylan Lysen

Former KU basketball player Silvio De Sousa applies for diversion in aggravated battery case

Former University of Kansas basketball player Silvio De Sousa has applied to go on diversion for a charge of aggravated battery, his attorney Hatem Chahine said Wednesday. De Sousa appeared in Douglas County District Court on Wednesday with Chahine through an online video conference. Chahine told Judge Sally Pokorny that he and De Sousa will meet with prosecutors next month to continue discussions on a possible ...

Lawrence school district selects KCMO leader as new LHS principal; director of facilities and operations also named

Story updated at 9:02 p.m. Monday: The Lawrence school district made two administrative appointments Monday, including a new leader for Lawrence High School. The district announced in a news release that Jessica Bassett would be the next principal of the high school beginning July 1. Bassett is currently the principal of Southeast High School in Kansas City, Mo. She will succeed Cynthia Johnson, who has ...

Douglas County considering more changes to land-use regulations to further limit rural residential development

Although Douglas County adopted new zoning regulations last year to limit residential development in rural parts of the county, that effort did not go exactly as planned. Tonya Voigt, the county’s zoning and codes director, told the County Commission recently that new codes that were adopted in early 2020 slowed the number of residential subdivisions into land parcels of 10 acres or smaller, but vastly ...

Lawrence school board to hear annual report on building, equipment improvements

The Lawrence school district is planning for $22.5 million of building and equipment improvements during this school year and the next, according to the district’s capital improvement plan. During its meeting on Monday, the school board will hear a presentation about those plans as part of the district’s annual capital outlay report. The district has a capital outlay fund that it uses for facility ...

Crews respond to fire at storage unit facility in western Lawrence

Crews fought to contain a fire at a storage unit facility in western Lawrence on Friday afternoon. Tom Fagan, division chief of administration, said Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical crews responded to a call at Space Saver Storage, 3707 W. Sixth St., for a fire in a storage unit. Once on the scene, crews found heavy smoke coming from the front of one of the storage units. The smoke could be seen from Sixth ...

Court sets $1 million bond for Lawrence man accused of murder

A Douglas County District Court judge has set a $1 million bond for a Lawrence man who is accused of murder. Johnathon Lee West, 43, made his first appearance in court this week for a second-degree murder charge where the court set the cash or surety bond, Deputy District Attorney Joshua Seiden told the Journal-World. The court also appointed attorney Hatem Chahine to represent him. West remains in the Douglas ...

Douglas County school virus guidance continues in green tier for second week

Douglas County’s school virus guidance will remain at its lowest tier for the second straight week as new cases of COVID-19 continue to fall. On Thursday, Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health announced that its guidance to schools would stay in the green tier, which recommends that schools use fully in-person classes. The color-coded guidance is meant to help county school districts navigate reopening ...

Douglas County Commission defers extending septic company's truck storage permit

A septic company’s request to extend a permit for truck storage just north of Lawrence city limits will remain unresolved for at least a couple more weeks. The Douglas County Commission on Wednesday deferred taking action on Honey Bee Septic’s request to extend a conditional use permit at 1462 N. 1700 Road to give county staff and the company time to discuss other options for the truck storage, such as ...

Douglas County Commission to consider two land use requests north of Lawrence

A rural landowner wants to turn a former motel property into a facility for agricultural equipment sales and repairs, and a septic company wants to continue using a property near the North Lawrence neighborhood for truck storage. The Douglas County Commission on Wednesday will consider the two rural land use requests, one that planning staff recommended for approval and another that planning staff recommended ...

Lawrence City Commission approves spending another $90,000 on hotel shelter program for homeless people

Lawrence will be spending another $90,000 on a program to house homeless people in hotels amid frigid winter temperatures. At its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission voted unanimously to approve the additional spending for the program, for which demand has more than doubled over the past two weeks as extreme cold has gripped northeast Kansas. The city has now spent $340,000 in total on the program, ...

Lawrence City Commission wants more information about cost, legal issues involved with taking over sidewalk maintenance

Before Lawrence city leaders consider taking over certain sidewalk maintenance responsibilities, they have a couple of questions for city staff, including how the city might fund a maintenance program and what kinds of legal issues it might face if it tried to enact one. At its meeting Tuesday, the City Commission received a report about the potential costs of taking over sidewalk maintenance after property ...

K-12 education leaders fear that 2 legislative proposals could lead to a school funding fight

Public education leaders say two bills that state legislators are considering could harm the state's school funding at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is already punching holes in school districts' budgets. One of the bills is a tax reform plan that could lower the state's revenue by more than a billion dollars over three years, according to the Associated Press. The other one would greatly expand a program ...

Eudora man charged with aggravated burglary, aggravated battery

A 43-year-old Eudora man was charged with aggravated battery and aggravated burglary on Friday for allegedly breaking into a home and attacking a man. Curtis J. Johnson, who is in the custody of the Douglas County Jail, was formally charged at his first appearance in Douglas County District Court on Friday afternoon. Both charges are level four felonies. Jenn Hethcoat, a spokeswoman for the Douglas County ...

Douglas County school virus guidance downgraded to green tier for the first time since October

Douglas County’s school virus guidance has been downgraded to its lowest tier as cases for COVID-19 continue to fall. Lawrence Douglas County Public Health announced Thursday its recommendation to schools would drop to the green tier, which recommend schools use fully in-person classes. The color-coded guidance is meant to help county school districts navigate reopening schools and conducting activities as ...

Douglas County Commission approves $1.85 million of 2020 year-end budget transfers

The Douglas County Commission took its final action on the 2020 budget during its meeting on Wednesday by approving about $1.85 million of year-end transfers. The year-end transfers are a standard budgeting process for the county, moving revenue dollars in the county’s general fund -- its largest and broadest fund -- to other funds with more specific purposes like equipment and project reserve accounts. The ...

Douglas County Commission to discuss county property values, which grew 4% in 2021

Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, overall property values in Douglas County increased in 2021. However, some areas saw significant declines, including the lodging industry and downtown businesses. According to a report from County Appraiser Steven Miles, the property values throughout Douglas County increased by roughly 4% over the last year. The County Commission during its meeting on Wednesday will ...

Lawrence superintendent proposes return to fully in-person learning next month

The Lawrence school district is working on a plan to bring students back to in-person learning five days a week by next month. Superintendent Anthony Lewis said Monday during a school board meeting that he is proposing that kindergarten through fifth grade students return to a full week of school on March 15 and students in sixth grade and up return on March 29. The school board was not required to vote on ...

'Use common sense': Parents frustrated with Lawrence school district's COVID-19 testing program for some athletes

When the Lawrence school district recently began a mandatory COVID-19 testing program for its middle and high school students and staff participating in “high-risk” athletics, Traci and David Marcum quickly grew frustrated. Their son, Matthew Marcum, a Free State High School wrestler who is currently ranked fifth in the state’s 6A 170-pound weight class, tested positive for the virus through the program, ...

School district report shows more students getting Ds and Fs amid pandemic

A Lawrence school district report suggests the coronavirus pandemic is having a negative effect on students' academic performance, with students at every grade level receiving more D and F grades so far this year than in previous years. During its meeting on Monday, the Lawrence school board will hear a presentation on the report from Zach Conrad, the district’s director of research and evaluation. The report ...

Douglas County virus guidance remains in yellow tier as cases continue to decline

Douglas County’s school virus guidance will remain the same for a third straight week, despite the number of cases for the coronavirus continuing to fall. Lawrence Douglas County Public Health announced Thursday its recommendation to schools would remain in the yellow tier, which calls for schools to use hybrid or fully in-person classes. The color-coded guidance is meant to help county school districts ...