WRITER: Dylan Lysen

LHS students voice concerns about weapons incidents at school, suggest some solutions

After a gun incident was reported at Lawrence High School last week — the third in the past 12 months — students voiced their concerns during a round-table discussion on Thursday. One worry that the dozen or so students shared: that guns at school are becoming more routine. “It pissed me off to say that it’s normal,” LHS junior Sophia Bracker Sturm said. “It's something I see all the time now.” ...

Douglas County Commission accepts grant to build new accessible viewing platform at Wells Overlook Park

A new accessible viewing platform will soon be constructed at Wells Overlook Park. The Douglas County Commission on Wednesday accepted a $44,000 grant to help fund the construction of a viewing platform compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility guidelines at the site, which is on County Route 458 just east of U.S. Highway 59. The acceptance of the grant finalizes the project, which the ...

Douglas County Commission to consider accepting grant to help fund Wells Overlook accessibility project

Douglas County may soon begin work on the construction of a new accessible viewing platform and picnic shelter at Wells Overlook Park. The County Commission during its meeting on Wednesday will consider approving the acceptance of a federal grant worth up to $44,790 to fund part of the project. In March 2019, the commissioners approved a plan to construct a viewing platform compliant with Americans with ...

Criminal justice council to research alternatives for jail's step-down unit expansion, but won't make formal recommendation

The Douglas County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council has put together a work group to research alternatives for a previously proposed “step-down” unit expansion for the Douglas County Jail. But when the work is done, the CJCC will not provide an official recommendation to the Douglas County Commission. During the CJCC’s meeting on Tuesday, Criminal Justice Coordinator Mike Brouwer passed on some ...

3 new Lawrence school board members officially sworn in, creating a majority consisting of people of color

A new majority has officially taken over the Lawrence school board. During the board’s meeting on Monday, Carole Cadue-Blackwood, Erica Hill and Paula Smith were sworn into their positions by Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew. Along with board President Melissa Johnson, the three new members create a majority on the board consisting of people of color. Superintendent Anthony Lewis previously told the ...

Lawrence school district hires new principal for Pinckney Elementary

The Lawrence school district has selected a new principal for Pinckney Elementary School. Miah Lugrand, who is currently the assistant principal for Wheatley Elementary School in the Kansas City, Mo., school district, will take over the position on July 1, Superintendent Anthony Lewis announced in a Monday news release. The Lawrence school board approved the hire as part of its personnel report during its ...

Otters on the Kaw: Kansas Riverkeeper finds evidence of elusive mammal in Douglas County

Ever since she became the Kansas Riverkeeper in 2015, Dawn Buehler has been looking for evidence of otters on the Kansas River. But while traveling the river, kayaking about 700 miles a year, Buehler said she struggled to find anything related to the animal. Recounting her efforts, Buehler, who is also the executive director of the Friends of the Kaw organization, recently told the Journal-World that she would ...

Lawrence school board to swear in 3 new members

Three new faces will soon officially take their positions on the Lawrence school board. Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew will swear in recently elected members Erica Hill, Carole Cadue-Blackwood and Paula Smith during the board’s first meeting of 2020 on Monday. The new board members will replace Jessica Beeson, Jill Fincher and Rick Ingram. Board member Shannon Kimball, who was also elected in the fall, will ...

Lawrence middle school teacher earns state award that honors the best new educators

During a surprise phone call earlier this week, a Lawrence middle school teacher learned that he is considered one of the best new educators in the state. Chad Aberle, a second-year science teacher at West Middle School, was surprised with the 2020 Kansas Horizon Award on Tuesday when he received a call from Randy Watson, the Kansas education commissioner. In a video of the phone call that the Lawrence school ...

LHS, KU graduate to be a moderator in Democratic presidential debate

A graduate of Lawrence High School and the University of Kansas will be one of three moderators during an upcoming debate among Democratic candidates for the U.S. presidency. Brianne Pfannenstiel, the chief political reporter for the Des Moines Register, will join CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Abby Phillip next week as moderators for the seventh Democratic Party presidential debate, CNN announced this ...

Lawrence school board asks legislators to consider gun control, anti-tobacco measures in 2020

The Lawrence school board wants the Kansas Legislature this year to consider adding new gun control measures and making it harder for students to access tobacco products. In its priority list for the 2020 legislative session, the school board said it wants Kansas lawmakers to consider those types of policies in an effort to improve student wellness and safety. The school board approved the list in December, and ...

Extension office releases video to help raise awareness of mental health struggles among farmers

With poor crop prices and even worse weather, the farming community in Kansas dealt with a lot of stress last year. “It all seems to pile up on you all at once,” says Lowell Neitzel, a Douglas County farmer, in a new video produced by Douglas County and presented by the local K-State Research and Extension office. The extension office released the video — titled “Farm Stress: You Are Not Alone,” — ...

Extension office to update Douglas County Commission on effort to address stress, depression among farmers

In an effort to help address mental health struggles among Kansas farmers, the K-State Research and Extension Office of Douglas County will soon release a video to help raise awareness about the issue. Mallory Meek, an agent for the extension office, will present the locally produced video to the Douglas County Commission during its meeting on Wednesday. In a letter to commissioners, Meek said the video ...

With help from Lawrence mayor, educators at Billy Mills kick off semester remembering why they teach

With the help of Lawrence Mayor Jennifer Ananda, faculty members of Billy Mills Middle School prepared for the spring semester by reminding themselves why they teach. Ananda, who served as a guest speaker for the teachers’ first day back to school on Monday, set an example for them by explaining why she ran for the Lawrence City Commission. She said she began serving her community as an advocate, including ...

Douglas County expects to know jail expansion's effect on operating costs by the end of the month

Douglas County does not yet know how a new plan to expand its jail will affect the annual operating costs of the facility. But county staff hopes to have an idea by the end of the month, County Administrator Sarah Plinsky recently told the Journal-World. “I’m hoping to have some round estimates for that before a (County) Commission conversation later in January," Plinsky said. "But I’m not there ...

New folk and bluegrass music festival coming to Lawrence in August

A new musical festival will be coming to Lawrence this summer, and its promoter has high hopes that it will become a signature event. In launching what will be known as the Kaw River Roots Festival, local entertainment promoter Mike Hannah said he wanted to make Lawrence the Midwestern capital of Americana, folk and bluegrass music. “That’s one of the main goals of this festival,” said Hannah, who owns ...

Ben Lerner's novel 'The Topeka School' earns end-of-year praise from Obama, New York Times

A recently released novel set in northeast Kansas has received high praise, including from a former U.S. president. Ben Lerner’s “The Topeka School,” which was released in October, was named as one of the best books of 2019 by both The New York Times and Barack Obama. The book places Lerner’s recurring character, a writer named Adam Gordon, into an environment reminiscent of Lerner's own high school ...

Lawrence respite housing project aims to help local homeless men get back on their feet

After his mother died in a car accident in 2010, Ehren Schwarz said he began to slip into a spiral of addiction that eventually led to homelessness. Instead of taking advantage of a scholarship to attend and play football at Washburn University in Topeka, Schwarz said he gave into the addiction and intermittently lived on the streets of Kansas City, Mo., for about five years. But Schwarz, who is originally ...

December health code inspections: 17 found out of compliance in Douglas County

Seventeen organizations in Douglas County failed state health code inspections in December. Each month, I take a look at inspection results and list every place either listed out of compliance or with 10 or more code violations. Full reports are available online at agriculture.ks.gov. There, you can find details about specific violations, which can vary. Noncritical citations include unlabeled products, ...

2 teens charged in Holcom Park double shooting to be tried as adults

Two Topeka teenagers charged with attempted first-degree murder stemming from a double shooting at a Lawrence park will be tried as adults. Chief Judge Peggy Kittel ruled Tuesday in Douglas County District Court that based on the evidence in their cases, Benson J. Edwards Jr., 18, and Sahavione K. Caraway, 17, should be tried as adults. Although Edwards is now an adult, he and Caraway were both minors at the ...