WRITER: Rochelle Valverde

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 ...

Police union and city begin mediated contract negotiations, agree to new mental health program

Representatives of the city and the local police officers union began mediated contract negotiations Wednesday. Negotiations between the Lawrence Police Officers Association and the city are governed by a local resolution, which states that whenever a contract is negotiated, the negotiations are automatically considered to be at an impasse if they aren't concluded by July 1. The city and LPOA have yet to agree ...

City leaders approve library mural; contract to return to commission for review

After more than three hours of public comment, city leaders voted to move forward with a proposal to add a mural to the exterior of the public library, but with a caveat that a contract with the lead artist return to them for review. The commission voted, 4-1, with Mayor Stuart Boley dissenting, to accept a request from artist group Womxn of Color to donate and install the mural on the ground-level concrete ...

Friends of the Kaw receives grant to restore native trees and plants along river, reduce pollution

To help rid the waterway of pollution, a local preservation group will be bringing native trees such as cottonwoods and pawpaws back to the banks of the Kansas River. Friends of the Kaw, a nonprofit preservation and advocacy group, was recently awarded a nearly $78,000 Douglas County Natural and Cultural Heritage Grant to help restore native tree and plant species to an approximately 1-mile stretch of land ...

Lawrence City Commission to review adjustments to 2019 proposed budget

As expected, some significant adjustments to the city manager’s recommended budget have materialized, and the largest is related to home values. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will receive revenue and expenditure updates to the 2019 budget and the five-year Capital Improvement Plan. The adjustments result in a $445,000 increase to the budget, bringing the total budget to about ...

Police union continues to push back on city’s proposal to eliminate double-time pay

Representatives of the local police officers union are not willing to give up double-time pay for officers and detectives. As part of contract negotiations with the Lawrence Police Officers Association, the city previously proposed eliminating double-time pay. Under the current contract, if an officer or detective works more than 12 hours in a single day, any hours beyond the 12th hour are paid at double ...

Lawrence City Commission to consider agreement for citywide bike-share service

The bike-share service operating on the University of Kansas campus could soon be expanded citywide. At its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider approving an agreement between the city and VeoRide Inc. that would allow the bike-share company to add about 20 off-campus locations to its service. The service would continue to be run by VeoRide, at no cost to the city, but the company is ...

City leaders to consider proposal to add mural to exterior of public library

City leaders are set to consider a mural proposed for the exterior wall of the Lawrence Public Library, including a request that the mural be painted on panels instead of the library itself. At its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will decide whether to approve the mural, which depicts stories of local women of color. The commission will review recommendations from the Lawrence Cultural Arts ...