WRITER: Dylan Lysen

Douglas County Commission to consider contingency plan for unspent federal COVID-19 aid

Douglas County may soon approve a backup plan to spend outstanding federal pandemic relief money before the end-of-year deadline. During its meeting on Wednesday, the County Commission will consider giving County Administrator Sarah Plinsky the authority to execute a contingency plan for the unspent funds from the county’s $24.9 million Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act allocation. The ...

A tour of two facilities on Douglas County's behavioral health campus; residents expected to move in soon

The dream of Douglas County and local health professionals to construct and operate a behavioral health recovery campus is nearing fruition. Two of the three facilities for the planned Treatment and Recovery Campus of Douglas County, at 1000 W. Second St., recently wrapped up construction. When all three are completed, the campus will be a vital part of what county and health officials have referred to as the ...

KU students building ADA-compliant platform for Wells Overlook Park after delays caused by pandemic

It may have taken longer than hoped, but a plan to provide accessible views of rural Douglas County is coming to fruition. After months of designing and building, students of Dirt Works Studio, a University of Kansas School of Architecture and Design studio, are in the middle of constructing a new platform for Wells Overlook Park that will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. While the ...

Local business owners are preparing for the worst, but are cautiously optimistic for holiday shopping season

As cases in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic surge, businesses are anxiously approaching what is traditionally the most robust shopping season of the year. For many Lawrence businesses, shoppers buying gifts from their stores during the holiday season can determine whether a business will continue into the following year. That’s the case for Lucky Dog Pet Grocery and Bakery, 933 Massachusetts St., which has ...

School board votes against adopting health department's COVID-19 guidance, will craft its own version with different criteria

Story updated at 11:19 a.m. Wednesday The Lawrence school board has voted to not adopt the local health department’s school coronavirus guidance, and it intends to create its own version with more criteria to consider. On Monday, the board voted 4-3 against adopting Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health’s school virus guidance, which would have given Superintendent Anthony Lewis the authority to close ...

Lawrence school district to begin COVID-19 testing program for students, staff next week

Some students and staff of the Lawrence school district will soon be tested for the coronavirus while at school. The Lawrence school district’s COVID-19 task force explained to the school board Monday a new initiative to provide a testing program for students and staff that will begin next week. The program is meant to first get a baseline for the prevalence of COVID-19 cases in the school district and then ...

Lawrence school board to review community feedback regarding how school is being conducted amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Lawrence school board will soon review recently solicited community thoughts about how the district is conducting school amid the coronavirus pandemic. During its meeting on Monday, the school board will hear an update from district administration about how the district has been operating as the coronavirus pandemic continues into the fall semester. According to a memo to the board members, the report will ...

Douglas County school virus guidance remains in orange tier as key indicators begin to decline following recent surge

Douglas County schools will be able to continue using forms of in-person learning for at least another week as the average number of new COVID-19 cases began to drop this week. Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health announced Thursday that its guidance to schools would remain in the orange tier for a second straight week. The guidance recommends county schools continue using hybrid in-person learning methods and ...

Douglas County Commission authorizes sale of bonds to fund behavioral health campus projects; annual cost lower than originally expected

Douglas County’s annual costs to pay off 20 years of debt for behavioral health construction projects will be lower than originally expected. The County Commission on Wednesday approved the sale of general obligation bonds to fund construction projects for its behavioral health campus, which included a 20-year debt service with a 1.27% interest rate. Compared to the county's original estimation, the low ...

Lawrence school district reconsidering allowing wrestling as pandemic worsens

Although the Lawrence school district recently announced plans to continue winter sports amid the coronavirus pandemic, one of those sports might be on the brink of being canceled. During a special meeting last week, the Lawrence school board decided to continue discussion around whether wrestling should be permitted this school year as the pandemic appears to worsen. The board had met with Lawrence-Douglas ...

Douglas County Commission to consider authorizing bond sale for behavioral health campus projects; county's bond rating reaches top tier

Douglas County could soon officially sell bonds to take on debt to fund the construction of its behavioral health campus in Lawrence. The county may also be able to sell them with lower interest rates than originally expected after it recently earned an upgraded bond rating. During its meeting Wednesday, the County Commission will consider authorizing the sale of general obligation bonds for the purpose of ...

'The largest election we've ever had': Douglas County voters break records despite pandemic

Story updated at 4:16 p.m. Monday Despite an ongoing pandemic, Douglas County voters broke many records during the general election earlier this month, the county’s top election official said Monday. Residents cast the most ballots in county history, and the largest portion of registered voters took part as well. Before the County Commission certified the 2020 general election results Monday morning, County ...

Douglas County Commission to consist solely of Lawrence residents; concerns voiced about lack of rural representation

With two newly elected candidates taking their seats soon, the Douglas County Commission will have a much different look than before — and maybe an unprecedented one. When Shannon Reid and Shannon Portillo take their seats to represent the 2nd and 3rd districts, respectively, they will both be Lawrence residents representing districts that include the rural parts of the county. Commission Chair Patrick ...

Local organizations working to distribute CARES funding as deadline nears

As the end of the year draws closer, local organizations are working to dole out coronavirus relief funding they have been charged with distributing. Representatives for both the Lawrence Restaurant Association and Downtown Lawrence Inc. told the Journal-World this week they are wrapping up the second and final round of their grant funding that is being offered to local businesses struggling amid the ongoing ...

Douglas County elevates school virus guidance to orange but recommends continued hybrid in-person learning

Story updated at 10:52 p.m. Thursday While Douglas County continues to see increasing cases of COVID-19, the local health department is not recommending students return to fully remote learning. Despite Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health’s guidance to schools upgrading to its orange tier for the first time on Thursday, officials said schools could continue to allow in-person instruction as long as they ...

Some Eudora, Perry-Lecompton students returning to remote learning as COVID-19 cases rise

Story updated at 3:52 p.m. Wednesday Two school districts serving Douglas County students are set to again use remote learning as COVID-19 cases in the area continue to rise. And based on recently released data, it’s possible the other two school districts in the county will be joining them soon. Officials for Eudora and Perry-Lecompton school districts announced this week that some of their students will ...

Douglas County official says behavioral health efforts need to include mobile crisis response team

A Douglas County official says a new crisis center and other facilities won’t be a “magic bullet” for improving mental health in the community, and he’s calling for the creation of a mobile crisis response team to supplement those efforts. Bob Tryanski, the county's director of behavioral health projects, told the county's Criminal Justice Coordinating Council Tuesday that local governments and health ...

Lawrence superintendent recommends winter athletics, activities to continue amid pandemic

Lawrence school district Superintendent Anthony Lewis is recommending that the school district’s winter athletic and activity programs continue this school year, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. During the school board’s regular meeting on Monday, Lewis said he felt comfortable that the teachers and students who participate in these programs will follow the district’s safety guidelines ...

COVID-19 contact tracing protocols could lead to some Lawrence students returning to remote learning for weeks

As the Lawrence school district completes its weekslong transition to hybrid learning on Monday, parents may be wary that their children could be sent back to remote learning if community spread of the coronavirus continues to increase. But it's also possible, and maybe even more likely, that pockets of virus cases within classrooms and school buildings will lead to some students learning remotely for ...

Lawrence students overwhelmingly support Biden in mock presidential election

The Lawrence youth vote came out strong this week for Joe Biden as local students continued an election-year tradition of casting ballots in important races, including the U.S. presidency. Although their votes didn’t technically count, thousands of Lawrence students made their voices heard by voting in mock elections organized by the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence. According to the results published online, ...