WRITER: Rochelle Valverde

February cold snap resulted in the death of at least one person experiencing homelessness in Lawrence

A period of intense cold in February resulted in the death of at least one person experiencing homelessness in Lawrence. David Lee McKinzey, 66, died on Feb. 13, according to a public notice. The Journal-World heard reports of McKinzey’s death at the time from organizations that work with those experiencing homelessness, but did not receive the autopsy report to independently confirm his death until this ...

Community Police Review Board strikes criminal background check requirement for board members, makes other changes to new ordinance

Citing its negative effect on board participation, the city’s Community Police Review Board has decided to remove a criminal background check as a requirement to join the board. For about a year, the board has been working on a new version of its governing ordinance with the main goal of strengthening its oversight and review of complaints. As part of its meeting Thursday, the board agreed on several changes ...

Douglas County Commission approves request to divide rural property for residential use

Douglas County leaders have approved a request to rezone 25 acres currently zoned for agricultural use into residential lots. The commission voted unanimously as part of its meeting Wednesday to approve a request from property owners Patrick Halpin and Erin Callahan-Halpin to rezone 25 acres at 981 East 1549 Road, roughly 3 miles south of Lawrence, from its current agricultural zoning to a cluster preservation ...

Douglas County Commission to consider request to divide rural property; more discussion of proposed budget also on agenda

Douglas County leaders will soon consider a request to rezone 25 acres currently zoned for agricultural use into residential lots. As part of its meeting Wednesday, the Douglas County Commission will consider the request from property owners Patrick Halpin and Erin Callahan-Halpin to rezone 25 acres at 981 East 1549 Road, roughly 3 miles south of Lawrence, from its current agricultural zoning to a cluster ...

City leaders approve close to $2M in pay increases for three unionized worker groups, including $650,000 for newly unionized solid waste workers

Expressing appreciation for the results of a long negotiation process, city leaders have approved close to $2 million in pay increases for three unionized employee groups, including the newly unionized solid waste workers. At its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission voted unanimously as part of its consent agenda to approve agreements with the Teamsters Union Local No. 696, the Lawrence Police ...

To comply with new state law, city leaders set hearing to consider exceeding ‘revenue-neutral’ tax rate

Lawrence city leaders have taken the first step toward a 2022 budget that, though it would not increase the city property tax rate, would result in residents paying more in taxes than they did last year. To meet requirements of a new state law, the Lawrence City Commission voted unanimously as part of its meeting Tuesday to set Aug. 31 as the date for a newly required public hearing for exceeding the ...

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

To comply with new state law, Lawrence City Commission to consider exceeding 'revenue-neutral' tax rate

To meet requirements of a new state law, Lawrence city leaders will soon consider whether to take the first step toward a 2022 budget that, though it would not increase the city property tax rate, would result in residents paying more in taxes than they did last year. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider setting a date for a newly required public hearing for exceeding the ...

City's recommended budget proposes new division with focus on homelessness, reallocation of social service funding

As Lawrence struggles to help the increasing number of people experiencing homelessness, including many living in encampments, the city manager’s recommended budget calls for creating a new division to address the issue. City Manager Craig Owens’ recommended budget for 2022 allocates $4.78 million in local, state and federal funds toward the new Housing Initiatives division in a manner that would be budget ...

City leaders to consider close to $2M in pay increases for three unionized worker groups, including $650,000 for newly unionized solid waste workers

Lawrence city leaders will soon consider approving contracts for three employee groups that are represented by unions, including the first contract for the city’s recently unionized solid waste workers, which calls for $650,000 in pay increases for next year. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider agreements with the Teamsters Union Local No. 696, the Lawrence Police ...

City of Lawrence issues cease and desist order for all AT&T projects, cites 'continuous reckless, illegal, and discourteous behavior'

The City of Lawrence has issued a cease and desist order to AT&T and its subcontractors for all active projects in the city because of numerous complaints and what the city describes as reckless behavior. In a news release Thursday, the city states that all right-of-way permits applied for by AT&T and its contractors will be denied until further notice. The release states that the city has received ...

Outdoor concerts and parties in Lawrence to return as 3 popular summer events stage their comebacks

Three popular local events are staging a comeback this summer after being canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, giving the public several chances in the coming weeks to enjoy live music and drinks in the open air. Lawrence city commissioners approved street party permits this week for the Sandbar Block Party, the outdoor concert series Live on Mass and the Kansas State Fiddling and Picking ...

Arts commission approves concept for $325,000 art piece for Lawrence police headquarters

A $325,000 public art project for Lawrence’s new police headquarters received an approval from the local arts panel and will now be considered by city leaders. As part of its meeting Wednesday evening, the Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission voted 9-0 to recommend the project for approval. The project will now go to the Lawrence City Commission for consideration. Following a national request for ...

City leaders hear details about recommended budget's proposal to reclassify or remove 8 police officer positions

The city manager’s recommended budget calls for removing eight officers from the Lawrence police force, replacing six of them with nonofficer positions and moving the other two to a new city division that will address issues related to homelessness. The eight positions were one of the topics Lawrence city commissioners asked about during their study session Tuesday evening to go over City Manager Craig ...

City gathering public comments on city manager's recommended budget, which holds property tax rate flat and increases utility rates

The City of Lawrence is seeking feedback from the public on the city manager’s recommended budget. City Manager Craig Owens' recommended budget is $383.87 million across all funds. Among other things, it would reallocate existing resources to establish a Housing Initiatives Division to address homelessness; provide more than $117 million in infrastructure and maintenance funding; and add approximately $5 ...

City leaders begin discussion of city manager’s recommended budget, with changes to be made over next several weeks

City leaders have begun discussion of the 2022 recommended budget, which calls for a flat property tax rate and an increase in utility rates, and coming weeks will determine what changes they might make. As part of a study session Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission received City Manager Craig Owens’ recommended budget. The budget is $383.87 million across all funds, and includes more than $117 million in ...

Lawrence City Commission to discuss city manager's recommended budget, which calls for utility rate increases

Lawrence city leaders will soon get their first look at the city manager’s recommended budget for 2022, which calls for a flat property tax rate and an increase in utility rates. As part of a study session Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission is scheduled to receive City Manager Craig Owens’ recommended budget. The commission does not take any action as part of its study sessions, but commissioners will ...

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 primary election to provide written responses to three questions regarding current issues facing the City of Lawrence. Each candidate was given 600 words in total to respond to the three questions. The Journal-World staff compiled a brief biography of each candidate using information from past interviews and their candidate ...

City Commission candidates share views on police reform, homelessness and affordable housing

As part of a forum Saturday, Lawrence City Commission candidates answered questions about police reform, addressing homelessness and the city’s shortage of affordable housing, and increasing opportunities for minority-owned businesses. In the virtual forum hosted by the Lawrence branch of the NAACP, the eight candidates who are actively running for a seat on the commission were told to provide timed ...

In wake of staff concerns and investigation, Lawrence Community Shelter director is no longer employed there

Updated at 5:38 p.m. Friday After concerns voiced by Lawrence Community Shelter staffers prompted an investigation into the executive director, Renee Kuhl, the shelter’s board has announced that Kuhl is no longer employed there. In a response to questions from the Journal-World this week, the president of the shelter’s governing board, Thea Perry, said that Kuhl “is no longer with” the shelter, but ...

City adding bus shelters, benches and bicycle racks to various bus stops throughout July

Now that plans for the city's new bus station are moving forward, the City of Lawrence has begun a project to add shelters, benches, bicycle racks and other features close to various bus stops. Eighteen bus stops will receive additions in four phases, with the first phase of the project concluding this week and the remaining phases continuing for the rest of the month. The bus stop improvements vary by stop, ...