WRITER: Dylan Lysen

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 ...

Douglas County Commission authorizes staff to explore buyouts for flood-prone properties

Some county residents whose homes have been repeatedly damaged by flooding may have the opportunity to use federal and local funds to move to a safer area. But the number of people who will get the opportunity will likely be low, said Chad Voigt, Douglas County deputy director of public works. “We’re talking about a fairly narrow scope here, but it is an opportunity,” he said. During its meeting ...

Douglas County Commission to discuss buying out properties in flood-prone areas

Updated at 10:23 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4 There may be more Douglas County residents living in flood-prone areas than once thought, and the county's leaders will soon consider whether to buy some of those residents’ homes to allow them to move to safer areas. The Douglas County Commission on Wednesday will discuss the possibility of buying out properties or changing floodplain maps in flood-prone areas around ...

After wowing contest judges, Lawrence boy to play piano with KC classical musical ensemble

When Matthew Liu, a Lawrence pianist, competed in the Midwest Chamber Ensemble’s youth concerto competition in the spring, he said he wasn’t nervous because he had performed in other competitions several times before. However, this time was different. He was an 11-year-old competing with musicians up to the age of 18, said Jessica Koebbe, director of the competition. “After hearing him perform and ...

Football is the top cause of concussions in Kansas high school athletics, report shows

In Kansas high school athletics, football was the cause of almost half of the reported concussions student athletes suffered last year, and those who played were almost twice as likely to suffer the brain injury than athletes in other sports. But Dr. Michael Rippee, a sports neurologist for the University of Kansas Health System, told the Journal-World he's not ready to lead athletes away from the ...

Lawrence school district offering internet hotspots to high school students who don't have access at home

When students don’t have access to the internet at home, they can be at a distinct disadvantage to their peers. That’s why the Lawrence school district recently expanded its effort to provide internet hotspots that students can take home for personal use, said Julie Boyle, a spokeswoman for the school district. In recent years, the district has offered a limited number of internet hotspots — known as ...

Man injured in single-vehicle wreck in North Lawrence

A man was severely injured in a single-vehicle wreck in North Lawrence Friday afternoon. The wreck on North Third Street happened at about 3:20 p.m., Jenn Hethcoat, a spokeswoman for the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, said in an email to the Journal-World. At the scene of the wreck, a Journal-World reporter saw a wrecked truck on the property of Advantage Metals Recycling, 1545 N. Third St. According to ...

LHS choir program to hold mattress sale to raise funds for spring trip to Tennessee

Members of Lawrence High School’s choir want local residents to get a good night's sleep — and they want to raise some money in the process. The program will host a one-day mattress sale in September, with 30 mattress models on display for the public to try out and purchase. The sale has the added benefit of helping fund part of the choir’s planned trip to Memphis and Nashville next spring, said Dwayne ...

Douglas County Commission approves program to offer tax relief for homes damaged in May tornado

Some Douglas County residents whose homes were damaged during the May 28 tornado will receive tax relief from the county government. The Douglas County Commission on Wednesday approved the creation of a program that gives County Appraiser Steven Miles the ongoing authority to process and approve applications for tax abatements to those residents. The program is slightly different from what the commission was ...