WRITER: Rochelle Valverde

Douglas County leaders to consider whether to pursue repair project for historic courthouse

County leaders will soon decide whether to pursue a repair project for the historic Douglas County Courthouse as the building contends with flooding and other issues. As part of its meeting Wednesday, the Douglas County Commission will decide whether to authorize county staff to begin the process to select a professional design firm for the project. The project will include waterproofing the courthouse’s ...

Lawsuit settlement affects parking at Penn Street Lofts, all future Warehouse Arts District projects

Following a lawsuit from the Warehouse Arts District's main developer, the City of Lawrence has revised its interpretation of the parking requirements for new developments in the district, allowing the addition of private parking for the first time. Under the city’s initial interpretation of the district’s redevelopment guidelines, city planners concluded that the area was to have “districtwide shared ...

After numbers show about 30% of Lawrence police remain unvaccinated, local police union says it respects 'right to choose'

In the face of lower vaccination rates among Lawrence police officers when compared to other local first responders, the city’s police union says it respects officers’ right not to get vaccinated. As the Journal-World recently reported, though the City of Lawrence has seen a significant increase in the vaccination rates among employees since announcing a new testing and leave policy a month ago, numbers ...

Heartland Community Health Center discusses recent efforts to address leadership, equity concerns

Following recent turnover in the leadership of Heartland Community Health Center and concerns about equity, center representatives said they were taking steps to restore confidence in the center’s direction. As part of the Douglas County Commission’s study session Wednesday, several Heartland administrators and board members provided updates and answered questions from county staff and commissioners. Chief ...

City seeking public feedback on two options for bus route redesign; both include Uber-like 'microtransit' options

The City of Lawrence is seeking feedback from residents on two options for a long-awaited redesign of the city's bus routes, both of which include Uber-like "microtransit" options, though with different ideas for how that service would function. Both scenarios call for a traditional network of bus routes that is complemented by microtransit service, according to information in a city survey about the routes. ...

City leaders hear details on development of climate action plan; proposal will be ready in time for next budget process

The development of a local climate action plan that will call for specific actions from local governments is underway, and a proposal is expected to come before city and county leaders for review this coming spring. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission received an overview of the main components of the climate action plan and an update on its ongoing development. Lawrence-Douglas County ...

Douglas County Commission to continue discussion with Heartland Community Health Center following leadership, equity concerns

Before any funding decisions for the upcoming year are finalized, county leaders will continue a discussion with Heartland Community Health Center representatives regarding recent turnover in the center’s leadership, concerns about equity, and steps the center is taking to address those issues. As part of its meeting Wednesday, the Douglas County Commission will follow up with Heartland regarding issues ...

City sees uptick in staff vaccination rate following announcement of testing requirement; rates vary among first responders

Though the City of Lawrence has seen a significant increase in the vaccination rates among employees since announcing a new testing policy a month ago, numbers show there are notable differences among the vaccination rates of the community's first responders. The vaccination rate for Lawrence police is 71%, compared to 89% for the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical department and 78% for Douglas County ...

City leaders to hear update on development of climate action plan; residents can take survey about top climate issues

City of Lawrence leaders will soon receive an update on the development of the local climate action plan, which will ultimately include actions local governments will take to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. The city and Douglas County are collaborating on the development of the plan, and Sustainability Coordinator Jasmin Moore will provide the City Commission the update as part of its meeting ...

Douglas County leaders receive data on local evictions, discuss ongoing prevention efforts

Douglas County leaders say the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing housing issues, and that the county will need to consider how it wants to address those issues both immediately and over the long term. As part of its study session Wednesday, the Douglas County Commission received information about the level of evictions occurring now that the nationwide moratorium has been lifted, as well as ongoing ...

City of Lawrence sets date for Municipal Services and Operations employee union election

The union election for City of Lawrence utilities and public works employees will occur later this month. The Lawrence City Commission approved a resolution setting a date for the election as part of its meeting Tuesday. As the Journal-World reported, Teamsters Local Union No. 696 announced last week that the union had recently filed a petition with the city to conduct an election for employees in the city’s ...

Douglas County Commission approves process to distribute $2.4M in ARPA funds for emergency needs

Douglas County leaders are working to set up a two-lane process for the $24 million in federal pandemic relief funding the county will receive over the next two years, beginning with establishing a quicker process for emergency needs. At its meeting Wednesday, the Douglas County Commission voted 3-0 to approve a funding policy that initially sets aside approximately $2.4 million for emergency purposes and ...

Additional screening scheduled for local documentary about early Mexican American community in East Lawrence

Another screening will soon take place for a local documentary about the Mexican American community of La Yarda that existed for more than 30 years in East Lawrence. Local filmmakers Lourdes Kalusha-Aguirre and Marlo Angell have created a 15-minute documentary, “Searching for La Yarda,” about the housing complex built for Mexican railroad workers that existed along the tracks in East Lawrence from 1920 to ...

Douglas County Commission to consider setting aside 10% of $24M in pandemic relief for emergency purchases

Douglas County leaders will continue their discussion about the upcoming process for distributing nearly $24 million in federal pandemic relief funding, including the amount of funding that should be available for emergency distribution and the particulars about that process. As part of Wednesday’s meeting, the Douglas County Commission will discuss what percentage of the $23.7 million that the county will ...

City leaders say discussion of draft policy for drones, other public cameras is good first step; policy discussion to continue among all departments

In a review of the city’s draft policy for its use of drones and other camera systems, city leaders said they appreciated the efforts of the police department to discuss the issue with concerned local groups and that continued discussion would be important as the city looks toward a potential drone program. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission received a presentation from the police ...

City to reconsider master plan for field operations campus following concerns from neighbors

Following concerns from neighbors about the city’s plan to build a new field operations campus in eastern Lawrence, city leaders have reallocated close to $400,000 to modify the master plan for the project. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission voted 5-0 to authorize the firm Dake Wells Architecture to utilize $383,991 of schematic design funding previously authorized for the project to ...

Following concerns, city leaders to decide whether to reconsider master plan for field operations campus

City leaders will soon discuss concerns from neighbors regarding the city’s plan to build a new field operations campus in eastern Lawrence, and consider reallocating close to $400,000 to modify the master plan for the project to address some of the concerns. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will receive an update on the city’s discussions with neighbors about their concerns and ...

'Indigenous Day is every day': Community celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day; events to continue at Haskell, KU throughout the week

Speakers urged those gathered on Monday for Indigenous Peoples Day to be proud and know that their culture is important every day. Students from Haskell Indian Nations University, the University of Kansas and members of the community gathered Monday on Haskell’s campus for an event that included food, music, handgames and three speakers. Haskell's Student Government Association and KU’s First Nations ...

General Election Voters Guide: City Commission candidates discuss the issues in their own words

Editor’s Note: The Journal-World asked each City Commission candidate in this year’s general election to provide written responses to five questions regarding current issues facing the City of Lawrence. Each candidate was given 850 words in total to respond to the five questions. The Journal-World staff compiled a brief biography of each candidate using information from past interviews and their candidate ...

"51 Years OUT!": Events later this month will celebrate the history of gay liberation at KU and in Lawrence

When Reginald Brown was walking to school in the third grade and first called a sissy and slurs for gay people, Brown didn’t even know the meaning of the words. “About five or six older boys from my neighborhood, from the sixth grade, surrounded me and started calling me [expletive], punk and sissy,” Brown said. “I had no idea what these words meant, but I could tell from their tone of voice, the look ...