WRITER: Rochelle Valverde

U.S. Senate approves bill that would maintain Amtrak route that runs through Lawrence

Millions of dollars could be on the way to help maintain the Amtrak train route that serves Lawrence. Because of maintenance needs, Amtrak is considering changes to the approximately 2,300-mile Southwest Chief passenger route, including discontinuing a portion of the route and replacing it with bus service. A bill passed this week by the U.S. Senate would provide $50 million for track maintenance and other ...

Developer gives up on 5-story downtown condo project, considers smaller mixed-use building

A local developer has withdrawn his plans to build a five-story mixed-use condominium building in downtown Lawrence. The developer of the Vermont Place project, Bob Schumm, said he decided to abandon the project as proposed because not enough people were interested in purchasing a condo. The condos were to comprise three floors of the building, but Schumm, who is also a former city commissioner, said he now ...

New Explore Lawrence sales director says Lawrence can be 'top destination' for conventions

As more hotels go up in Lawrence, local tourism leaders think the city has the potential to attract more conventions and other meetings. The city’s convention and visitors bureau, Explore Lawrence, recently hired a new director of sales, Kendra Schultz, to promote the city as a premier destination for meetings, conventions and leisure travel. Schultz said she thinks Lawrence can be a “top destination” ...

Community remembers Fire Chief Bradford at funeral service

At the funeral service for local Fire Chief Mark Bradford, Chaplain Paul Taylor told those gathered that he wanted to speak to both the professional and personal sides of Bradford. Bradford, 58, died Thursday in Shawnee County, according to the funeral program. Standing near Bradford’s flag-draped casket, Taylor told attendees Tuesday at the Lied Center that Bradford had two aspects, the fire chief and the ...

Changes coming to some city-KU bus routes, including more evening routes

Those hoping to catch a bus during the evening hours in Lawrence will soon have some additional options. The city of Lawrence coordinates its bus service with the University of Kansas, and seven routes that include campus stops will soon run later into the evening, according to a city news release. The changes extend bus service on six routes until 10 p.m. during the academic year and provide a late-night ...

Funeral services announced for Fire Chief Mark Bradford

Funeral services for local Fire Chief Mark Bradford, who died Thursday, will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Lied Center, 1600 Stewart Drive, according to Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home. A visitation will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at Lawrence Free Methodist Church, 3001 Lawrence Ave. The funeral services and visitation are open to the public, according to the city’s public affairs office. Following the ...

City urging Amtrak not to make changes to train route that runs through Lawrence

In her years as a volunteer caretaker at the Santa Fe train station in Lawrence, Carey Maynard-Moody witnessed firsthand the diverse mix of people who use the train. She said they included travelers from near and far touring the country, but also patients headed to hospitals in Kansas City, Haskell Indian Nations University students headed to hometowns in the southwest, a man going home to western Kansas for a ...

City board to look at ban for plastic bags, straws, other plastic products

A local advisory board will be looking at whether the city can play a role in reducing the amount of disposable plastic products used in Lawrence. The city's Sustainability Advisory Board voted earlier this month to make the issue of single-use plastics one of its priorities. Lawrence-Douglas County Sustainability Director Jasmin Moore said the board is forming a community work group to study single-use ...

Lawrence Fire Chief Mark Bradford remembered as 'ultimate professional'

One indicator of how Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Chief Mark Bradford viewed his profession was in the theme of the emails he sent to his staff. Former Division Chief Bill Stark, who retired last year, said Bradford would regularly send out “fire service pride” emails to the department, usually copying city management. Stark said that in the emails Bradford would often relay thank-you letters — ...

Lawrence native named new manager of Johnson County

The new leader of Johnson County — a Lawrence native with ongoing ties to the city — thinks there will be more opportunities for Johnson County and Lawrence to work together as both communities continue to grow. Earlier this month, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners appointed Penny Postoak Ferguson, who grew up in Lawrence, as county manager for Johnson County. “We know both of our ...

Mediated contract negotiations between police and city continue; requested raise would cost city $321,000

As contract negotiations between the local police union and the city stretch on, any raise provided police would now require adjustments to the city’s proposed budget. At its meeting last week, the Lawrence City Commission set the city’s maximum spending authority for the 2019 budget at $280.4 million, which does not set aside funds for the 3 percent general wage increase requested by the Lawrence Police ...

Reconstruction, road closures on East Ninth Street begin this week

Reconstruction of a 5-block stretch of East Ninth Street will begin Monday, and the city has announced the first street closures related to the project. The approximately $2 million project will be completed in four phases over the span of approximately four months. The project will replace the roadway, sidewalks and storm sewers on East Ninth Street between New Hampshire and Pennsylvania streets. Sidewalks ...

Commercial properties that owed nearly $700K in past-due taxes and fees auctioned for $107

The auction of five vacant lots in eastern Lawrence has wiped clean nearly $700,000 in delinquent taxes and special assessments owed to local governments. At a Douglas County tax auction Thursday afternoon, five commercially zoned properties along East 23rd Street were sold for $107 total. Though the buyer takes over payments of the local taxes and special assessments on the properties going forward, about ...

Lawrence City Commission moves forward with budget adjustments, including loop funding

City leaders made several adjustments to the proposed 2019 budget Tuesday evening, one of which would fund the design process for a segment of the citywide trail system. The budget includes $100,000 for the design of the downtown segment of the Lawrence Loop, with plans for construction to take place in upcoming years. Commissioners directed city staff to provide funding for the loop last week, and indicated ...

City leaders to consider adding funding for key segment of Lawrence Loop

The years-long effort to complete the city’s trail system could be getting a boost. At its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider allocating $100,000 in next year’s budget for design of the downtown segment of the Lawrence Loop, with plans for construction to take place in upcoming years. The commission amends the city’s five-year capital improvement plan annually as part of the ...

City and police union continue debate on wages, overtime; police overtime topped $1M last year

Last year, Lawrence police officers and detectives made about $1.1 million in overtime and double-time pay, accounting for 40 percent of the overtime paid by the city across all departments. As contracts and budgets are being hashed out, how to manage police overage pay is up for debate. Deadlines regarding the city’s budget and contract negotiations with the local police officers union are approaching, and ...

Lawrence City Commission agenda set for July 17 meeting

Consent agenda 1. Approve City Commission meeting minutes from 07/10/18. 2. Receive minutes from various boards and commissions: 3. Approve all claims. The list of claims will be posted by the Finance Department on Monday prior to the meeting. If Monday is a holiday, the claims will be posted as soon as possible the next business day. 4. Approve licenses as recommended by the City Clerk’s Office. 5. ...

Survey: Most black and Hispanic residents think local police are biased

Story updated at 7:30 p.m. July 13, 2018. The results of a community survey indicate that most Lawrence residents of color think Lawrence police are biased against their community. The City of Lawrence commissioned Allegro Training & Consulting to conduct the survey and related analysis in July 2017. The online survey was voluntary and anonymous, and 774 responses were received. About 125 respondents ...

City leaders weigh in on what to do with $2.25 million budget surplus

City leaders will soon decide what to do with more than $2 million of additional revenue for this year, and early discussions point to the city putting it in a reserve fund or spending it rather than using it to directly provide tax relief. As part of their work session this week, Lawrence city commissioners provided city staff some general direction regarding what could be done with the surplus. City staff is ...

Following criticism, city decides to post results of community survey on interactions with Lawrence police

The results of a community survey on Lawrence police relations will soon be posted publicly after some criticized the city for a delay in releasing the data. At the Lawrence City Commission meeting Tuesday, City Manager Tom Markus told commissioners that the city would post the report from the consultants hired to conduct the survey. He said the city had not previously released the report because city staff ...