WRITER: Rochelle Valverde

Lawrence City Commission to review draft policy for police department body cameras

City leaders will soon review the Lawrence Police Department’s draft policy for body cameras, which includes details on how the cameras and the footage they record will be used and handled. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will receive a presentation from the police department on the new body camera program and the draft policy. Though the commission is not required to approve ...

Lawrence mayor's home vandalized during City Commission meeting; police investigating

In the midst of an at times tense discussion about the treatment of homeless people and funding for the local shelter at City Hall, someone threw a rock through a window of the mayor’s house. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission heard more than an hour of public comment, which became heated and accusatory at times, about issues facing homeless people in Lawrence and a funding request ...

City and county to host informational meeting about the upcoming 2020 census

The City of Lawrence and Douglas County are hosting an informational meeting later this month about the upcoming 2020 census and the importance of getting an accurate population count. Local census experts will be on hand at the public meeting, scheduled for Jan. 28 at the Lawrence Public Library, to share information about the timing of the census, job opportunities associated with it and more, according to a ...

Attorneys say former Lawrence police officer who shot driver cannot be found for lawsuit

The police officer who shot a Lawrence driver after a 2018 traffic stop turned violent cannot be found. The driver, Akira Lewis, filed an excessive-force lawsuit in September against the former officer Brindley Blood, as well as the City of Lawrence, the other officer involved in the traffic stop and the police chief. The lawsuit also alleges that the city failed to properly train its officers. Efforts by ...

Lawrence City Commission approves $31,000 in additional funding for homeless shelter

After hearing several comments from people who are currently or were recently homeless, city leaders voted unanimously on Tuesday to provide $31,000 of the city’s surplus sales tax proceeds to the Lawrence Community Shelter. The funding will temporarily allow the shelter to increase its capacity on cold nights. At its regular meeting, the Lawrence City Commission heard more than an hour of public comment ...

Lawrence City Commission to consider providing $31,000 in additional funding to homeless shelter

City leaders will consider providing $31,000 of the city’s surplus sales tax proceeds to the local homeless shelter. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider the Lawrence Community Shelter’s $31,000 supplementary funding request, which would temporarily allow the shelter to increase its capacity on cold nights. The shelter has been struggling financially and last year ...

Consultants say new master plan aims to make downtown Lawrence a regional destination

Consultants creating the new Downtown Master Plan say one of the key goals of the plan is to strengthen downtown as a destination, not only for Lawrence residents but for the entire region. The city hired consulting firm Houseal Lavigne Associates to complete the plan, and the firm presented a draft of the first sections of the plan to the Downtown Master Plan Steering Committee on Monday. Houseal Lavigne ...

Draft of Downtown Master Plan envisions shift to 'experience-based' businesses

Within the next 20 years in downtown Lawrence, residents might not shop at a row of retail stores — instead, they might go "play with gadgets, meet with personal stylists" and visit a variety of "experience-based businesses" that offer unique services that you can't buy online. That's the vision outlined in a newly released draft of the first sections of Lawrence's new Downtown Master Plan, and some city ...

Local church donates $10,000 to build additional bus shelters and benches

A local church has donated $10,000 to the city to help fund construction of bus benches and shelters throughout the community. As part of its meeting Jan. 7, the Lawrence City Commission accepted the $10,000 donation from Velocity Church, which has services at the Lawrence Arts Center and Theatre Lawrence. Commissioners expressed gratitude for the donation before voting to accept the gift. In a letter to the ...

Lawrence developer Thomas Fritzel pleads guilty to criminal conspiracy in Oread tax fraud case

Updated at 4:50 p.m. Thursday Lawrence developer Thomas Fritzel pleaded guilty Thursday in a federal fraud case. Fritzel pleaded guilty to one count of criminal conspiracy, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Kansas. Fritzel admitted that he and others submitted false monthly sales tax returns to the state of Kansas related to the development of The Oread hotel, 1200 Oread Ave. in ...

Artists to gather ideas for community mural for Edgewood skate park

Designs will soon be created to turn the bare concrete of the Edgewood skate park into a community mural. The do-it-yourself skate park was itself a community project, and some of those involved are also helping to lead the mural project. Community artists Nicholas Ward and Billy Beeson are both involved with the project, and Ward said the mural would cover all the concrete surfaces, treating the skate park's ...

City leaders express interest in using sales tax surplus to help homeless shelter

City of Lawrence leaders will soon consider providing some of the city’s surplus sales tax proceeds to the local homeless shelter. Lawrence received about $400,000 more in sales and use tax collections in 2019 than it had budgeted for. During the City Commission’s meeting Tuesday, Commissioner Lisa Larsen asked whether the commission should consider using some of the surplus sales tax to provide additional ...

Lawrence City Commission to consider city’s legislative priorities, including support for state tax relief measures

City leaders will consider adding five issues to their list of legislative priorities, including support for a measure that would effectively freeze property tax rates for low-income seniors and a measure that would provide rebates for sales tax charged on groceries to low-income residents. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider approving its Lawrence Legislative Priority ...

Decline in global recycling markets could affect Lawrence residents' utility bills

If the market for recycled materials remains low, the city's costs for processing recyclables could go up — and so could residents' utility bills. The City of Lawrence contracts with the Hamm recycling facility to process recyclable materials, but changes in global markets have led to a significant decline in the value of those materials over the past couple of years. The city already has been feeling the ...

Horse-drawn carriage rides raise money for homeless shelter; organizers hope to make them an annual event

Horse-drawn carriage rides provided holiday cheer for Lawrence residents and a fundraising boost for the local homeless shelter. Several local businesses, including McGrew Real Estate and the Eldridge Hotel, partnered to offer the carriage rides in downtown Lawrence to benefit the Lawrence Community Shelter. The homeless shelter has been struggling financially, and last year it had to reduce its capacity. ...

Anonymous matching grant helps Lawrence Public Library surpass fundraising goal

An anonymous $10,000 matching donation has helped the Lawrence Public Library surpass the $20,000 goal it had set for its annual fundraising campaign. Kathleen Morgan, director of development and community partnerships at the library, said the campaign raised a total of $27,315 — $10,000 from the matching donation and $17,315 from other people in the community. The deadline to contribute to the campaign was ...

Renovation of Fire Station No. 1 puts new shine on old building

With its gleaming copper-plated addition and the bright red garage doors, the renovated Fire Station No. 1 stands out. The $7.14 million renovation project is nearing completion, with only a few final items, and Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical personnel moved back into the station several weeks ago. In addition to preserving the building’s midcentury modern architecture, the renovation added an office ...

Temporary cold-weather shelter for Lawrence homeless seeks overnight volunteers, donations

A temporary overnight shelter for the homeless is seeking volunteers and donations to help it keep running in downtown Lawrence through the winter. The Lawrence Winter Shelter opened in the First United Methodist Church, 946 Vermont St., on Dec. 15 to help address a shortage of emergency shelter for the homeless. The winter shelter runs entirely on volunteer work and donations, and it is in need of volunteers ...

East Ninth art project awards $1,000 each to five youth projects, including a ballet, sculpture and music album

A contemporary ballet, a plastic waste sculpture and a music album are some of the works that young artists will contribute to the East Ninth Street art project. The East Ninth Project put out a call for youth art projects this fall and received five applications, according to project facilitator Mandy Enfield. Each project — done by a middle or high school student — will receive a $1,000 grant to complete ...

Munsee tribe in Kansas works to regain federal recognition

Connie Hildebrandt has long known she was Chippewa, but it wasn’t until 2005, when her hometown newspaper published a small announcement about a meeting of Munsee descendants, that her mother mentioned to her that she was also part Munsee. The Munsee tribe in Kansas once had a reservation outside Leavenworth but has not been federally recognized as a tribe in the U.S. since 1900. Hildebrandt, who lives in ...