WRITER: Rochelle Valverde

Teacher pay proposals from union, district leaders differ by more than $1 million

Representatives of the Lawrence school district and teachers union left a contract negotiations meeting Thursday with more than $1 million separating their respective salary proposals. The most recent proposal from the Lawrence Education Association, the district’s teachers union, calls for a $1,600 increase to base pay for teachers. The district is proposing one of two options, either a $460 or $500 ...

Automated water meters would provide more data to Lawrence customers, allow for tiered rate plans

Water meters and billing in Lawrence are set to get a multimillion-dollar update, paving the way for changes to the city’s utility rate structure. The city’s 2019 proposed budget, which the Lawrence City Commission is scheduled to adopt next week, includes $4.45 million toward the installation of automated utility meters. That amount is in addition to $6.42 million allocated for the project as part of the ...

Lawrence City Commission gives final approval to library mural

As part of its consent agenda Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission approved the contract to add a mural to the exterior of the city’s library. Last month, commissioners voted to move forward with a proposal from artist group Womxn of Color to donate and install the mural on the ground-level concrete wall of the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St. Some commissioners were concerned about how exactly ...

Lawrence City Commission moves forward with 2019 budget, including utility rate increase

Lawrence city commissioners have voted unanimously to move forward with the city’s 2019 budget, which holds the property tax rate flat, increases utility rates and provides millions of dollars for new projects. The City Commission held a public hearing on the budget as part of its meeting Tuesday, and though commissioners noted that increasing utility rates can be hard on residents, they agreed that having ...

City's affordable housing effort faces rising construction costs

Those in the business of building and selling new homes in Lawrence are seeing a trend that may not bode well for the city’s affordable housing shortage. The average sale price of new homes in June was about $342,000, up about 30 percent from the same period last year, according to recently released data from the Lawrence Board of Realtors. That’s compared to an increase of about 6 percent for existing ...

Despite mediation, city and police department still at odds over pay; City Commission to make final decision

After dozens of hours of mediated negotiations, city and police union representatives still can not agree on how much of a pay increase officers and detectives should receive. Because of the impasse, the Lawrence City Commission will have the final say on the remaining sticking points of the police department’s employment contract, which includes raises and other compensation issues. The commission will ...

Firefighters battle 3 fires Friday afternoon in Lawrence

Story updated at 5:50 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3, 2018: Firefighters battled three fires that broke out within the span of about an hour on Friday afternoon in Lawrence, according to radio traffic. The first fire reported occurred at about 1 p.m. at 1022 Alabama St., and the second about 20 minutes thereafter in the 1400 block of Prairie Avenue. The third broke out at around 2 p.m. in a two-story house near Ninth ...

Lawrence City Commission to hold public hearing on 2019 budget

City of Lawrence leaders will soon take the next step in shaping the city’s 2019 budget, which, as currently proposed, would hold the property tax rate flat, increase utility rates and provide millions for new projects. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will hold a public hearing on the budget. As proposed, the $206.5 million budget includes about $69 million in capital improvement ...

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 ...