WRITER: Rochelle Valverde

City of Lawrence will continue to pay all employees, but some will be assigned new duties

The City of Lawrence employs more than 800 people, all of whom will be getting paychecks regardless of whether they’ve been able to work their full hours or perform their usual duties. Though the coronavirus pandemic has led to the closure of city buildings, cancellation of recreational functions, suspension of most municipal court dockets and a hiatus for parking enforcement, the paychecks for city ...

Lawrence Community Shelter raising money to house homeless quickly amid coronavirus outbreak

Story updated at 4:08 p.m. Thursday: The local homeless shelter’s closely spaced bunk beds present a vulnerable setup during an outbreak of a highly contagious virus, and shelter leaders fully recognize that. The Lawrence Community Shelter is currently housing about 75 people in two dorms, one for men and one for women, filled with rows of bunk beds, and a family area with separated sleeping space but ...

Douglas County leaders approve paid leave for all employees not working under stay-at-home order

Douglas County leaders have decided to provide paid leave for county employees not working because of the coronavirus outbreak, saying it was the right thing to do even if it would impact the county's budget. As part of its meeting Wednesday, the Douglas County Commission voted 3-0 to approve a proposal to pay employees regardless of whether they must report to work under the stay-at-home order issued by local ...

Douglas County leaders to consider paid leave for all employees not working under stay-at-home order

Douglas County leaders will soon consider approving paid leave for county employees who will not be working because of the coronavirus outbreak. As part of its meeting Wednesday, the Douglas County Commission will consider a proposal to pay employees regardless of whether they must report to work under the stay-at-home order issued by local health officials in response to the virus. Department heads have ...

Midco providing free internet service to low-income students to support remote learning

Midco is working with local school districts to make sure that students learning from home because of the coronavirus outbreak have the internet access they need to study remotely. In a message sent to schools about why Midco is providing the free service, the company states that Midco admires the efforts of educators to support their students and continue their education and that internet access is key to ...

Noting time of crisis, Lawrence superintendent says remote learning will start slow

As the Lawrence school district prepares to launch remote learning next week, Superintendent Anthony Lewis said he understood parents are handling a lot right now and the transition into learning from home would be gradual. At the Lawrence school board’s meeting Monday, Lewis said he realized that, due to the coronavirus outbreak, some parents are working from home on top of having their kids there all day. ...

Lawrence bus service to reduce campus routes, causing some driver layoffs

The coronavirus outbreak has caused local bus routes to reduce their service and some bus drivers have been asked to leave their jobs. To help control the spread of COVID-19, the University of Kansas canceled all in-person classes for the spring semester and suspended all nonessential research activity. Transit and Parking Manager Adam Weigel said in an email to the Journal-World that KU On Wheels decided to ...

Lawrence developer Thomas Fritzel does not appeal revocation of his license; work resumes under new contractor

Lawrence developer Thomas Fritzel has chosen not to appeal the city’s revocation of his contractor license following his recent felony convictions, and work on his most recent project has resumed under a new contractor. In February, the City of Lawrence revoked Fritzel’s license following his felony convictions related to illegal asbestos disposal during a 2016 renovation project, and it ordered all work to ...

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., is pictured Thursday, July 7, 2016.

City officials bracing for economic hit to Lawrence businesses, sales tax collections

With some Lawrence businesses closing temporarily or seeing drastic reductions in customers because of the coronavirus pandemic, city leaders will soon need to manage how the potential drop in sales tax collections affects the city’s budget. City Manager Craig Owens told the Journal-World this week that the city has already started to have conversations about the budgetary impact of the business slowdown ...

Several upcoming City of Lawrence meetings canceled due to COVID-19; virtual meetings under consideration

The City of Lawrence has canceled various meetings this week to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, raising the question of how city business will be conducted during the pandemic. The City Commission held only a short meeting Tuesday, but it had previously deferred all of its regular agenda items to deter people from gathering. As the week went on and stricter health orders were issued to prevent the ...

Lawrence school employees will be paid during closure; plans still in works for others affected by shutdowns

Story last updated at 6:06 p.m. Wednesday After orders to close school facilities, Lawrence public school employees will continue to be paid through the end of the academic year, the district announced late Wednesday afternoon. But long-term plans are still being developed for some other area government and school district employees affected by closures related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Douglas County’s ...

All City of Lawrence buildings to close; mayor urges public to limit gatherings to 10 people

The City of Lawrence will close all city buildings to the public, including City Hall, in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The city announced the closure at the Lawrence City Commission's meeting on Tuesday, which was held not long after the announcement of Douglas County’s first case of COVID-19. During remarks at the beginning of the meeting, which was broadcast online, Mayor Jennifer Ananda urged ...

Immigrants can be held in Douglas County Jail for noncriminal charges; county officials say they simply are following the law

While advocates have been working with Lawrence City Hall on policies to make it less likely that immigrants will be detained solely for immigration violations, there are signs their sights soon may shift to the Douglas County Jail. A review by the Journal-World found the jail follows a system — which uses fingerprint files that are sent to federal immigration officials — that can result in immigrants ...

Construction on Lawrence's new $19.5M police headquarters hits halfway point

The city’s new $19.5 million police headquarters is now halfway complete, and police representatives say the project could far exceed original goals to bring more police under one roof. The project’s halfway point was marked with the placement of the final piece of the structure’s steel framing during a “topping out” ceremony on Friday. City staff, police and city commissioners who have been involved ...

Lawrence City Commission supports marketing company as potential tenant for restored Santa Fe train depot

Story updated at 4:49 p.m. Wednesday: The recently restored Santa Fe train depot could soon have an additional use, though city leaders acknowledged the potential tenant is not exactly what they had imagined. The City of Lawrence put out a request for proposals last spring for a currently unused space in the depot, which the city restored last year, and received two tenant proposals. The city had been hoping ...

Lawrence City Commission defers changes to city union rules, requests more discussion with union

City leaders will continue their discussion of changes to the local resolution governing city employee unions with the hope that city and union representatives can come to more agreement on certain items. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission voted unanimously to defer adopting a resolution and asked that city staff and union leaders further discuss some measures and hopefully come to ...

Brew to Brew Relay won't come to Lawrence; Leavenworth County denies permit for event, citing bad behavior, safety concerns

This story was updated at 5:38 p.m. Leavenworth County commissioners have denied a permit that the annual Brew to Brew Relay needs to complete its course to Lawrence, citing crude behavior and safety issues. Leavenworth County commissioners voted to deny the permit for the 44-mile relay, which traditionally runs between a brewery in Kansas City and a brewery in Lawrence. The denial, which came Wednesday as ...

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., is pictured Thursday, July 7, 2016.

Lawrence City Commission to consider changes to city union rules that Teamsters say are 'anti-worker'

City leaders will soon consider changes to the local resolution governing city employee unions that an area union says are “anti-worker.” Teamsters Local 696 requested changes in December to the resolution that union representatives say will ensure employees’ right to organize and join a union, but have come out against the measures that city staff have proposed in response to its request. As part of its ...

Homeowner appeals court decision regarding controversial Queens Road taxing districts

A Lawrence man who sued the City of Lawrence over the Queens Road taxing districts continues his legal efforts to stop the $5.3 million road project from proceeding as planned. Last year, Queens Road homeowner Kurt Schaake filed a lawsuit against the city in Douglas County District Court claiming that the taxing districts the city set up to fund the project are arbitrary and capricious and therefore out of ...

Lawrence residents say housing, jobs and homelessness will be key issues for city's next strategic plan

When a group of residents were asked what changes they wanted to see in Lawrence in 10 years, common replies included more affordable housing, higher paying jobs and progress addressing social issues such as homelessness. About 40 people attended a public meeting Wednesday at the Carnegie Building to gather input for the city’s 2020 strategic plan. The strategic plan, which updates the plan created by the ...