WRITER: Dylan Lysen

Lawrence school district summer construction projects include continued work at LHS, renovation at administration offices

Although Lawrence students have not been in their classrooms for months, the school district is still working on upgrading school buildings with construction projects this summer. Tony Barron, the district's executive director for facilities and operations, recently told the Journal-World that the continued renovation of Lawrence High School and upgrades to the exterior of the school district's administrative ...

Most local races likely to be decided by Democratic voters; clerk's office sees massive influx in requests to vote by mail

Douglas County voters will soon decide many local political races, but registered Republicans will have no voice in many outcomes. That’s because all but one of the county seats that are up for election this year will likely be decided through Democratic primary elections, and the deadline to switch political parties for the primary election has already passed. Additionally, voters may also notice that ...

Douglas County administrator proposes flat mill levy for 2021 budget

Douglas County may keep its property tax rate flat for its 2021 budget while also focusing on flexibility amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. County Administrator Sarah Plinsky recently told the Journal-World she has proposed a 2021 budget with a flat mill levy of 46.430, which would provide the county with an overall estimated $125.5 million budget. Additionally, Plinsky said her proposed budget includes ...

Douglas County commissioners delay taking action on quarry's request to expand operation near Eudora

The Douglas County Commission will wait a week before considering a company’s request to expand a quarry near Eudora. The commissioners heard a request on Wednesday to amend a conditional use permit for Hamm Quarry, located at 2364 North 1200 Road, which wants to expand its extraction operation into 51 acres west of its property. The amended permit would also allow the quarry to expand the amount of land that ...

Douglas County Commission to consider permit that would allow quarry near Eudora to expand its operation

A Douglas County quarry just outside of Eudora is looking to expand its operation. The County Commission on Wednesday will consider amendments to a conditional use permit that would allow Hamm Quarry, 2364 North 1200 Road, to expand into 51 acres west of the property. The amended permit would also allow the quarry to expand the amount of land that can be mined at one time from 30 acres to 50 acres. The quarry ...

Organizers say paraeducators want union for more than wage increases, are frustrated with school board's inaction so far

A union for paraeducators in the Lawrence school district would not only allow paras to negotiate for better pay, but would also be in the best interest of students, union advocates say. Leaders of the para organization that is seeking union recognition recently told the Journal-World that the group is hoping a union will give paras the ability to negotiate for increased training and to be protected when ...

Free State debate team wins prestigious award for performance at national tournament

The speech and debate team for Free State High School was recognized last week as one of the best high school debate programs in the country. As part of the National Speech and Debate Association’s national tournament, which was conducted virtually from June 14 through June 20, the Free State program was one of 20 schools across the country recognized with the School of Excellence in Debate award. The award ...

3 Lawrence residents selected to serve on state commission studying racial equity and justice

Three Lawrence residents have been selected to serve on a state commission focused on issues of racial equity in justice. Gov. Laura Kelly announced in a news release on Wednesday that she signed an executive order to create the commission, which will first work on community relations of Kansas law enforcement. The 14-member commission includes Lawrence Superintendent Anthony Lewis and University of Kansas ...

Judge dismisses lawsuit that aimed to stop Douglas County's plan to expand jail

Updated at 4:20 p.m. A local activist group and others do not have legal standing to challenge Douglas County’s plan to expand its jail, a judge has ruled. In a Tuesday court filing, Judge James Fleetwood dismissed a lawsuit in Douglas County District Court filed by faith-based activist group Justice Matters and others that aimed to halt the controversial project. In the suit, Justice Matters and its allies ...

Local criminal justice leaders working to make courts more efficient to address looming jail population crisis

To help address a looming inmate population crisis at the Douglas County Jail, criminal justice leaders are working to make the local court system more efficient, said Criminal Justice Coordinator Mike Brouwer. During the County Commission meeting on Wednesday, Brouwer reported to the commissioners some steps the Lawrence Municipal Court and the Douglas County District Court are taking to help reduce the number ...

Douglas County Commission to receive update on reducing jail population

The Douglas County Commission will again consider solutions to a possible looming population crisis at the county jail. Criminal Justice Coordinator Mike Brouwer said in a memo to the commissioners that he continued to meet with local criminal justice leaders to discuss how to decrease jail use. During the commission’s meeting on Wednesday, Brouwer is expected to update the commissioners on the status of ...

Protesters call for removal of police officers from Lawrence schools, make other demands

A group of about 50 protesters gathered outside the Lawrence school district’s administrative offices on Monday to demand action related to the Black Lives Matter movement and a recent paraeducator unionization effort. Prior to the Lawrence school board meeting, members of the protesting group — known as the Lawrence Education Justice Collective — called for the school district to remove police from ...

Pinckney Elementary School is named after a slave owner, but Black school leaders suggest there are bigger issues to address

Despite Lawrence’s abolitionist past, a local elementary school happens to bear the name of an early U.S. political leader who was not only a slave owner but an advocate for keeping the slave trade legal in the United States. While Pinckney Elementary School was not formally named in honor of Charles Pinckney, a former governor of South Carolina and one of the delegates who crafted the U.S. Constitution, the ...

LHS students' documentary on dancer Alvin Ailey showcased by Smithsonian museum

A short documentary film by Lawrence High School students focusing on the life and resilience of dancer Alvin Ailey reached the national stage this week. Liliana Christensen and Zora Lotton-Barker, who will be seniors at LHS this coming fall, told the Journal-World Thursday they were excited that their film, “Alvin Ailey: Breaking Barriers in American Dance,” was one of 35 films from across the country ...

Douglas County commissioners say they also need state lawmakers to help address jail population issues

While the Douglas County Commission has recently challenged local criminal justice leaders to find ways to decrease their usage of the county jail, the commissioners on Wednesday said they need to also challenge state lawmakers. “This all starts in Topeka,” Commissioner Michelle Derusseau said. “Even the criminal justice folks here in Douglas County don’t make the laws. They are just working with what ...

Douglas County Commission to continue discussions on viability of jail expansion project

The Douglas County Commission will continue discussing the viability of the planned expansion of its jail during its meeting on Wednesday. According to a memo in the meeting's agenda, the discussion will give the commissioners a chance to ask county staff questions about the project and discuss it among themselves. Commissioner Nancy Thellman told the Journal-World on Tuesday that the meeting will allow the ...

Democratic candidates for Douglas County Commission all voice opposition to planned jail expansion

Five Democratic candidates running for two Douglas County Commission seats all expressed a level of opposition to the county’s controversial jail expansion project during a candidate forum hosted Tuesday by the local Democratic Party. Where the candidates differed was how they wanted to address the issue of overcrowding in the jail without the expansion. Three Democratic candidates — Shannon Reid, Sara ...

Douglas County expects to receive $21-24 million of federal funding for coronavirus relief

Douglas County will soon see an injection of federal cash to help address health issues and an economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. County Administrator Sarah Plinsky recently told the County Commission that the county would begin receiving between $21-$24 million of federal funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as CARES. But full details on how much ...

Despite nationwide calls for change, Lawrence school district to continue use of police in schools

Despite calls across the country for changes in how law enforcement agencies operate, the Lawrence school district plans to continue using officers from the Lawrence Police Department in its schools. But school board leaders are asking whether there needs to be more oversight of the school resource officer program to ensure students are not subjected to issues like systemic racism. Superintendent Anthony Lewis ...

Only Republican candidate drops out of 2nd District Douglas County Commission race, endorses incumbent Democrat

The only Republican in the race for the Douglas County Commission 2nd District seat has dropped out. Brett LaRue announced in a Thursday news release that he was “withdrawing” his candidacy and endorsing incumbent Commissioner Nancy Thellman. However, LaRue’s name will remain on the ballot. Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said LaRue’s name must appear because the withdrawal date had already ...