WRITER: Rochelle Valverde

Two dozen households in Lawrence receive warning to boil water

Story updated at 12:08 p.m. Friday The City of Lawrence has issued a warning about drinking water to 24 households in eastern Lawrence after a series of water main leaks in the area. The city left precautionary notices on the doors of residences that were without water following the discovery of the leaks early Wednesday morning, city spokesman Porter Arneill said in a news release Friday. Arneill said the ...

Lawrence mayor says profane tweet to Trump was out of frustration with immigration policies

Lawrence Mayor Lisa Larsen directed — and later deleted — a tweet at President Donald Trump, calling him a "f---ing idiot" regarding his statements on a recent immigration agreement with Mexico. The tweet was up for less than a day, and Larsen told the Journal-World that she still felt strongly about the issue, even though she regretted her word choice. Last weekend, Larsen used her personal Twitter ...

City manager’s recommended budget would increase Lawrence property taxes, utility rates

As part of his recommended budget, Lawrence City Manager Tom Markus is proposing a 0.5-mill property tax hike that will help fund, among other things, the first across-the-board wage increase that most city employees have seen in years. The proposed mill levy increase would amount to about a $12 increase in annual property taxes on a $200,000 home. The recommended budget also calls for utility rate increases ...

Developer, property owner sue City of Lawrence over denial of downtown apartment project

Updated at 4:56 p.m. Wednesday The developer behind a proposal to build a five-story apartment and retail building in downtown Lawrence is suing the city, claiming city leaders bowed to pressure from residents when rejecting the project. The lawsuit claims that decision was unlawful and asks the court to reverse the city’s denial of its project. In May, the Lawrence City Commission unanimously denied a ...

Erv Hodges, former mayor of Lawrence, dies at 89

Story updated at 2:48 p.m. Tuesday, June 11, 2019: One testament to the efforts of former Mayor Ervin “Erv” Hodges stands for all to see outside the Lawrence Visitor Center. The 19-foot sculpture “From the Ashes” depicts a half-man, half-phoenix rising from flames and serves as a memorial for more than 400 Douglas County soldiers, sailors, Marines, police officers and firefighters who died in the line ...

Local firefighters union endorses Michael Baker, of Tulsa, for fire chief

The Lawrence firefighters union has endorsed Michael Baker for the next fire chief of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical. The association of Lawrence Professional Firefighters, Local 1596, voted unanimously at a meeting Monday to publicly endorse Baker, according to a news release from the union. Baker is one of three candidates for the vacant fire chief position and the only outside candidate. The other ...

Final proposals selected for East Ninth art project include native plant garden, dance performance and portrait project

Additional works planned as part of the East Ninth Street art project include a community garden with native and wild plants, a dance performance about immigration and a family portrait series. After reviewing 31 submissions, a panel of artists selected six additional works for the long-running East Ninth Street art project, the last of 15 temporary and permanent art installations that will make up the ...

Parks and Rec board concerned about proposal to charge entrance fees at rec centers, partially close Community Building

The Lawrence Parks and Recreation Advisory Board expressed concern that a proposal to charge entrance fees at the city’s recreation centers would negatively affect low-income residents and agreed to further study equity issues. At their meeting Monday, board members reviewed the Parks and Recreation Department’s 2020 budget proposal to charge entrance and other fees, as well as other expenditure cuts ...

Lawrence Humane Society moves into new $7.5 million shelter

Though visitors to the new Lawrence Humane Society will appreciate the shelter’s larger, brighter building, shelter leaders say it’s the animals that stand to benefit the most. The new $7.5 million building is about 25% bigger than the old shelter, and provides about four-times the amount of space for medical care. Additional ventilation and isolation rooms also help stop diseases from spreading. “One ...

Lawrence City Commission meeting canceled for June 11

The Lawrence City Commission will not meet on Tuesday as normally scheduled. City spokesman Porter Arneill said the City Commission decided to cancel the June 11 meeting earlier in the year knowing that some city leaders would be part of a delegation traveling to Eutin, Germany, for the 30th anniversary of the Sister Cities relationship. The City Commission's next meeting will be at 3 p.m. June 18 at City ...

Hydroelectric plant leader calls for better management of reservoirs amid high water levels

Sarah Hill-Nelson stood alongside the Kansas River dam in Lawrence on Friday, raising her voice over the roar of the fast-rushing Kaw. For weeks, the turbines of the hydroelectric power plant her family runs have sat motionless. “On a really good day we would see the flashboards, but there is way too much water right now,” Hill-Nelson said. Because of the high volume of water, Hill-Nelson said the ...

Public asked to 'reimagine' East 23rd Street ahead of redesign of roadway

Ahead of the redesign of East 23rd Street, local transportation planners are asking residents what changes and improvements they want to see for the roadway. The Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Organization is working with a consultant to conduct a study and create a new transportation plan for East 23rd Street now that it is no longer a state highway. The study will inform the upcoming redesign ...

Historic preservation and affordability key issues for attendees of downtown master plan workshop

A group of Lawrence residents said Wednesday evening that three key things downtown needs are affordable commercial rents, affordable housing and historic preservation. The residents identified those issues at a community meeting to gather input for the city’s new Downtown Master Plan, which has not been updated in 20 years. The new plan will cover downtown development for the next 15 to 20 years and address ...

City leaders question how homeless shelter's $400,000 emergency funding request should be split with county

City leaders agreed on Tuesday that local governments should provide emergency funding for the Lawrence Community Shelter, but they want more discussion regarding how the city and county should split up those costs. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission discussed the homeless shelter’s additional funding request and received an outside review of the shelter’s financial situation. The ...

Lawrence City Commission reviews potential changes to sidewalk policy; residents ask city to pay for repairs

Several Lawrence residents voiced their objections Tuesday to a city policy that requires property owners to pay for repairs to sidewalks adjacent to their properties. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission received an update from city staff about the implementation of the sidewalk maintenance policy adopted last year. The policy requires property owners to fix sidewalks that run adjacent ...

Lawrence City Commission to consider homeless shelter's request for additional $252,000

Updated story - June 4 — City leaders question how homeless shelter’s $400,000 emergency funding request should be split with county City leaders will soon consider whether to provide the local homeless shelter an additional $252,000 to help the shelter meet shortfalls in its budget. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider the Lawrence Community Shelter's additional ...

No new City Commission candidates file for election; primary election not required

The filing deadline passed Monday without any additional candidates filing for election to the Lawrence City Commission. The seats of commissioners Stuart Boley, Leslie Soden and Matthew Herbert are up for reelection this year, and both Soden and Herbert have announced that they would not seek reelection. Six candidates have filed for the election, meaning that a primary election will not be required. City ...

Bike-share company makes request to bring electric scooters to Lawrence, relax parking requirements

The bike-share company currently operating in Lawrence is requesting the city's permission to add electric scooters to its fleet of rentable vehicles and to lift parking restrictions. More specifically, VeoRide Inc. is requesting that the city allow it to rent out 150 electric scooters and permit its customers to park bikes and scooters outside currently designated bike racks, according to VeoRide's request. ...

Northwest Lawrence residents ask city to reconsider requirement that property owners pay for sidewalk repairs

Updated story - June 4 — Lawrence City Commission reviews potential changes to sidewalk policy; residents ask city to pay for repairs This spring, 243 homeowners got a letter from the city telling them to fix their sidewalks or else have them condemned and fixed by the city at their expense. On the receiving end of one of those letters was Sarah Farthing, who since then has joined with other residents in ...

City and firefighters union disagree on raises as part of contract negotiations

City of Lawrence and firefighter union representatives disagree on how much of a wage increase is needed to keep firefighter pay competitive, and discussion about raises and other compensation issues will continue as contract negotiations proceed. The union’s current contract covers firefighters, fire engineers and fire lieutenants in the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Department, and it expires at the ...