WRITER: Dylan Lysen

Douglas County Commission to consider permit for boat storage, vacation rental on property near Clinton Lake

A rural homeowner near Clinton Lake wants to build a boat and RV storage lot on her property and open part of her home for vacation lodging. The homeowner, Connie Robertson, submitted two conditional use permit applications for the proposed plans, which the Douglas County Commission will consider authorizing during its meeting on Wednesday. Robertson’s 6.3-acre property, at 1072 North 1200 Road, currently ...

Lawrence school district event to explain dangers of e-cigarettes, how to help students quit

Lawrence residents will have the opportunity this week to learn about the effects that e-cigarettes are having on students. The Lawrence school district is inviting the local community to attend a presentation about the dangers of teenage use of e-cigarettes, also known as “vaping,” during a public information meeting on Wednesday. The event, “Seeing Through the Vapor,” is scheduled to begin at 6:30 ...

Douglas County officials certify 2019 general election results

Monday's canvass of the 2019 general election results confirmed the winners for the Lawrence City Commission and Lawrence school board races. The Douglas County Clerk’s Office released the official results of the Nov. 5 election after the County Commission certified the results. The official results confirmed that Brad Finkeldei, Courtney Shipley and Stuart Boley were elected to the Lawrence City Commission, ...

'I haven't heard a word': Republican state lawmakers unaware of Lawrence's action on marijuana ordinance

If the Lawrence City Commission is trying to send a message about the legalization of marijuana to the Kansas Legislature, it has fallen on deaf ears. “It’s a message that nobody is hearing,” state Rep. John Barker, R-Abilene, told the Journal-World recently. Three Republican state lawmakers, all of who serve as leaders for committees that would be responsible for state legislation regarding marijuana, ...

Lawrence parents call for school district to increase pay for paraeducators to help address what they believe are hiring, retention issues

This school year, Danae and Kyle Johnson happily began sending their youngest of two children to Pinckney Elementary School to begin kindergarten. But as the school year progressed, the Johnsons noticed their son, who has special education needs, was not receiving the full care he is required to receive through an Individualized Education Program, or IEP. The federally mandated program is important to the ...

State education board receives policy proposal that bans e-cigarette use on school property

The state’s highest education board may soon take action to help address teenage use of e-cigarettes, also known as “vaping.” The Kansas State Board of Education received a policy proposal this week from its E-Cigarette/Vaping Task Force that would prohibit the use, possession and promotion of tobacco and e-cigarette products by students and staff on school property. The policy would also prohibit the use ...

Council receives recommendations to reduce number of people with mental illness being booked into jail

Douglas County law enforcement groups can take several steps to help keep people with serious mental illnesses from repeatedly ending up in jail. And some of those steps are already underway and could have an immediate effect. “A lot of these things have already been implemented,” said Kati Habert, who presented a set of recommendations on the issue to the Douglas County Criminal Justice Coordinating ...

Douglas County Commission approves permit for rural event space

A rural Douglas County family now has the authority to build and operate an event center on their land, despite some neighbors voicing opposition to their plans. The Douglas County Commission unanimously approved issuing a conditional use permit to Eugene George and his family to build the event center on the family’s 80-acre property on 1500 Road, about half a mile north of North 900 Road. Once built, the ...

Douglas County Commission to consider conditional use permit for proposed rural event center

A family hoping to open an event center on their rural property will try for a second time to earn the approval of the Douglas County Commission. The commission during its next meeting will consider awarding a conditional use permit to Eugene George and his family to build and operate the event center. If approved, the event center — to be named George’s Event Center — would be built on the family’s ...

Lawrence school board gives initial approval to new, more specific student dress code

Students of the Lawrence school district may soon have a new set of criteria for how they can dress at school. The Lawrence school board on Monday gave initial approval to a proposed dress code policy change that would more specifically outline what students are and are not allowed to wear while they are at school. School board members and parents who spoke in support of the policy hope the change will ...

Construction of behavioral health campus set to begin, but price tag for Douglas County may grow

The Lawrence and Douglas County community will soon have a housing campus dedicated to serving those with mental health and substance abuse disorders. However, a funding gap for the multimillion-dollar construction project is not yet resolved and could end up being the financial responsibility of the county government. The gap has emerged after the project failed to win a $360,000 federal grant that had been ...

Lawrence school board to consider new, more specific student dress code

The Lawrence school board on Monday will consider revising its student dress code policy, possibly installing one with more specific rules for what students can wear and how the policy may be enforced. The school district’s board policy committee has been working to update the dress code policy because of concerns that the current policy is too broad. The current policy essentially says any clothing that has ...

Newly elected Lawrence school board thought to be first with majority of people of color

When a newly elected Lawrence school board convenes for the first time in January, it will have several new faces representing the community. Most of those new faces will also represent portions of the community that have not always been given the opportunity to serve. It will be what is thought to be the first school board in Lawrence with a majority of members who are people of color. “I’m just over the ...

2 Arctic cold fronts to bring wintry temperatures this week and next; weekend expected to be warmer

Lawrence residents woke up Thursday to wintry temperatures that are likely to stick around, possibly bringing record lows to the area. Sarah Teefey, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in Topeka, said Lawrence was part of the area in Kansas that experienced an Arctic cold front Wednesday. The temperatures quickly dropped overnight, with Lawrence seeing a low of 25 degrees on Thursday ...

Douglas County Commission approves jail security upgrades, despite bid coming in over initial budget

Although the Douglas County Commission approved a $1.03 million project to upgrade security at the county jail during its meeting on Wednesday, one commissioner was concerned about the cost of the project. Commissioner Patrick Kelly asked why the project's proposed contract with B.A. Green Construction came in higher than the county’s original estimation. B.A. Green Construction, which submitted the lower of ...

Douglas County Commission to consider spending $1 million for jail security upgrades

The Douglas County Commission on Wednesday will consider approving a construction project worth a little more than $1 million for security upgrades at the county jail. Douglas County Sheriff Ken McGovern asked the commission to approve the $915,000 contract with B.A. Green Construction to provide the upgrades, according to a recent memo to the commissioners. The commission initially approved the project in ...

2 students found with prohibited pocket knives at Southwest Middle School

Two students at Lawrence’s Southwest Middle School were caught with pocket knives at school on Monday. Julie Boyle, spokeswoman for the school district, told the Journal-World Tuesday that the students were caught with the knives after a police officer learned they were carrying them at the school, 2511 Inverness Drive. Boyle said the knives were not involved in an incident at the school. No one was ...

Erica Hill

Erica Hill earns most votes in Lawrence school board election; Cadue-Blackwood, Kimball, Smith also elected

Erica Hill said she was overwhelmed Tuesday evening when she saw how many votes she had received for election to the Lawrence school board. Hill, one of five candidates running for four open seats on the board, ran away with the most votes, receiving 9,102 with all precincts counted. She led the pack all evening and finished on top. “I’m just very grateful for the outcome,” Hill said at the Douglas ...

October health code inspection: 12 found out of compliance in Douglas County

Twelve organizations in Douglas County failed state health code inspections in October. 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 ...

Defendant in Lawrence rape case testifies that he never had sex with teen girl

Story updated at 7:25 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1: A Topeka man accused of rape testified in Douglas County District Court on Friday that he never had sex with the alleged victim. Instead, Jordan K. Ross said, the girl manually stimulated him to the point of ejaculation. However, Ross’ testimony did not match up with the version of events he provided in previous evidence admitted to the court. In fact, prosecutor ...