WRITER: Dylan Lysen

School board candidate Smith wants to help all students find success in education

As a graduate of the former Lawrence Alternative High School, Paula Smith said she wants to help Lawrence students find pathways to success that best suit them. “The way the program was geared to fit me better helped me succeed to graduate on time,” she said of her time at the Lawrence Alternative High School. “That was the success of that program.” Editor’s note: The Journal-World has been ...

Surviving cancer motivated school board candidate Perry to run for office

Thea Perry has always been interested in public service, but she was too shy to run for office. That changed, however, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2018. Perry, a candidate for the Lawrence school board election this fall, said the health issue motivated her to finally put herself out there. Editor’s note: The Journal-World has been publishing profiles on candidates for city and ...

Community partnerships key to improving lives of local students, says school board candidate Hill

As a community health professional, Erica Hill has focused on ways to improve the health of the Lawrence community, and she recently realized the best place to start. “What better way to make an impact on the community than investing in our youth?” said Hill, a candidate for the Lawrence school board election this fall. Editor’s note: The Journal-World over the next several days will publish profiles ...

Douglas County Commission hears proposal to change county's rules for dividing rural land

Douglas County leaders discussed a slate of proposed changes to the county's zoning regulations on Wednesday, including a measure that would allow for more public feedback before rural land could be divided into residential lots. Zoning Director Tonya Voigt and Planner Mary Miller presented a broad overview of the proposed regulations to the County Commission during a work session. They explained that the ...

School board member Kimball wants a third term to see current projects through

Since Shannon Kimball began serving in the Lawrence school district in 2010, the Lawrence school board has approved several construction projects to renovate buildings across the district. While Kimball, who served on a special elementary school facilities task force for the district in 2010 prior to joining the board in July 2011, helped craft the plans for those renovation projects during her two terms on the ...

Douglas County Commission to begin process of updating zoning regulations

The Douglas County Commission will soon begin a process to change zoning regulations in the unincorporated parts of the county. During a work session on Wednesday, the commission will get its first look at the proposed zoning regulation changes, which include adding a public feedback step to the county’s process when considering applications to subdivide land in rural parts of the county. Currently, those ...

School board candidate Cadue-Blackwood wants to be voice for underprivileged students

When Carole Cadue-Blackwood was a fifth-grade student at Cordley Elementary School, a teacher told her she didn’t think Cadue-Blackwood would finish her education. “I was really skinny, we were really poor, and I got bullied,” she said. “(The teacher) said, ‘I bet a dime to a dollar you won’t finish high school.’ And I believed it.” Editor’s note: The Journal-World over the next several ...

Protesters call for prosecutor Amy McGowan to be fired over alleged misconduct; DA calls event a stunt to possibly sway jury

A group of protesters gathered on Monday to call for a Douglas County prosecutor to be removed from her position for what they believe to be prosecutorial misconduct. In a protest outside the Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, local defense attorney Sarah Swain led the group in calls for the firing of Amy McGowan, the chief assistant district attorney for Douglas County. Some protesters were ...

Lawrence High School opens new 'innovation corridor,' part of $46 million renovation project

In a new area of Lawrence High School, students are now seeing a lot of something that they only got a little bit of before — sunlight. Large glass windows are a major feature in LHS’s new “innovation corridor,” a renovation that aims to bring the decades-old school into the 21st century. The new area was constructed this summer as the first part of a four-phase renovation of the school, a $46 million ...

'Mama J,' Lawrence High's interim principal, makes immediate impact on school's culture

As interim Principal Cynthia Johnson walks through the hallways of Lawrence High School, students give her high-fives. They talk to her about how their day has been going. And they call her by a more affectionate name: “Mama J.” Those kinds of interactions are just a few of the ways Johnson appears to have made an impact on the LHS campus in her first month of leading the school. Connecting with the ...

Lawrence student with scoliosis pushes for school district to begin screenings again

When Emma Hefty was in seventh grade in 2018, she began to feel constant pain in her back. After meeting with doctors, she and her family learned that she was living with a curved spine, a condition known as scoliosis. “I was in so much pain I didn’t want to go out with my friends,” Emma said. “I missed a lot because I was in so much pain and in this constant battle. Forget trying to be a normal teen; ...

Construction project gets green light after architect agrees to extend fence between building, cemetery

Douglas County leaders authorized a proposed construction project just north of Lawrence after an architect agreed to add more fencing to the project to clearly separate it from a neighboring cemetery. At its meeting Wednesday, the Douglas County Commission approved the proposal, which calls for the construction of a 4,700-square-foot addition to a facility located at 1451 North 1823 Road. The plan was proposed ...

College basketball recruiting fixer with ties to KU sentenced to probation in corruption case

A college basketball recruiting fixer who revealed that he had made illicit payments to University of Kansas basketball players will not spend any more time in jail for his actions in the college basketball corruption case. Thomas “T.J.” Gassnola was sentenced Tuesday to a year of probation, including two months of home detention, according to a federal court filing. Judge Lewis A. Kaplan cited Gassnola’s ...

Coordinator for Criminal Justice Coordinating Council leaving position for another county role

The only person who has served as the coordinator of Douglas County’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council will soon leave the position to fill another role in the county. Robert Bieniecki, who has held the position since August 2016, will be the next director of Douglas County’s Emergency Management office. Sarah Plinsky, interim county administrator, announced Bieniecki’s position change during the ...

Lawrence school board members 'disappointed' city commission has not taken up Tobacco 21 ordinance

A majority of the Lawrence school board expressed frustration over the Lawrence City Commission choosing not to consider an ordinance that would ban local businesses from selling tobacco products to people under the age of 21. “I'm really disappointed to hear (that),” said board member Jessica Beeson. “That’s really disappointing.” The school board said during its meeting Monday that it plans to send ...

Lawrence school board to discuss ways to address student use of e-cigarettes

The Lawrence school district will discuss ways to address student use of e-cigarettes during its next meeting. In the school board’s agenda packet, the school district refers to the use of e-cigarettes, also known as "vaping," by minors as an epidemic. The agenda also said the use of e-cigarettes can cause addiction and is harmful to the development of a child's brain. The board will receive a report that ...

Local high school, adult education program trains students for careers in restaurant industry

In just his first three months on the job at Luckyberry, Steven Wood said he’s had the two creations he made from scratch land on the restaurant’s menu. Now he’s working on what he hopes will be his third. He said it’s an opportunity he’s been dreaming of since he was in middle school. “I’ve always wanted to put positivity out, and cooking good food, wholesomely, was the best way I’ve found in ...

August health code inspections: 7 found out of compliance in Douglas County

Seven organizations in Douglas County failed state health code inspections in August. 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, improperly ...

Judge denies NCAA request for unreleased evidence in college basketball corruption trial

A federal judge has denied the NCAA’s request in the college basketball corruption trial for evidence that may have included information about the University of Kansas basketball program’s recruiting practices. Judge Lewis A. Kaplan on Tuesday denied the NCAA’s motion to become an intervenor in the case, which would have allowed the organization to obtain unreleased evidence collected by the FBI. The ...

Lawrence school district investigating racist social media messages sent by Free State students

The Lawrence school district is investigating a Monday incident of students at Free State High School posting racist messages through social media. A Free State student who saw the post told the Journal-World that one of the students involved sent a video message featuring another student laughing and showing a piece of paper with the N-word and a Nazi symbol drawn above it. The student did not specify how or ...