WRITER: Rochelle Valverde

Is illegal immigration a problem in Kansas? Despite small numbers, Kobach says yes

Republican gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach’s vision for undocumented immigrants in Kansas includes databases, higher tuition costs and punishments for “sanctuary” cities that don’t help with deportations. But some say Kobach’s tactics to discourage illegal immigration are not only unnecessary, but potentially harmful. Kobach, who has been endorsed by President Donald Trump, has made illegal ...

East Ninth Street reconstruction unearths hundreds of thousands of historic bricks

As construction crews work to reconstruct several blocks of East Ninth Street, relics of the city’s past are being unearthed. The city began reconstruction of the road, sidewalks and storm sewer lines on East Ninth Street in July, and so far crews have uncovered approximately 400,000 historic bricks that used to make up the roadway, Project Engineer Jonathan Marburger said in an email to the Journal-World. ...

In wake of indictment, City of Lawrence seeks to strip contractor license from developer Thomas Fritzel

Story updated at 2:45 p.m., Sept. 6 The City of Lawrence is seeking to strip the construction company of Lawrence developer Thomas Fritzel of its local license because of pending federal charges of improperly disposing of asbestos and repeatedly violating the city’s contractor licensing regulations. The city recently filed a complaint with the Lawrence Contractor Licensing Board against DFC Company, Fritzel ...

Soden says Lawrence City Commission should have say on police body camera policy

Lawrence city commissioners briefly discussed whether they should have any input on the Lawrence police department policy for body cameras, but whether they will remains unclear. During the Lawrence City Commission meeting Tuesday, Commissioner Leslie Soden questioned why the governing body was not scheduled to review the policy for the police department’s use of body cameras. Soden noted that the commission ...

New draft cemetery rules would allow for additional decorations at Lawrence gravesites

City officials presented the first draft of new rules for grave decorations at the city’s cemeteries, which would allow plot owners more decoration options, including limited borders and ground cover. The Parks and Recreation Department oversees three cemeteries — Oak Hill, Maple Grove and Memorial Park — and already has rules regarding decorations, but those rules have not been strictly enforced. The ...

KU journalism project tells stories of historic downtown buildings

Downtown Lawrence’s old brick and stone buildings, some marked with names and dates from centuries past, are a call to the curious. And now, those wanting to know more about the storefronts, people and events that populated downtown’s historic buildings have an easy way to find out. A University of Kansas journalism class, with the assistance of historical researchers, has been compiling timelines of ...

City leaders approve new trash rates for downtown, opt not to take action on over- and undercharged amounts

Close to 150 downtown businesses have been charged incorrect trash rates, some for several years, but city leaders decided they would not retroactively bill or credit those customers, saying that even if the errors had not taken place, the rate structure would still have been flawed. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission received a report from MSW Consultants about the billing errors and ...

Lawrence City Commission to consider benefit district boundaries for Queens Road

City leaders will soon take the first step in determining which property owners will be paying for the multimillion-dollar reconstruction of Queens Road. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will review three options for the formation of a benefit district for the project and will choose one of them to hold a public hearing on at a future meeting. The commission will also consider ...

Study finds downtown businesses were undercharged $180,000 annually for trash collection

Billing errors resulted in the city of Lawrence undercharging downtown businesses for trash collection by $180,000 per year, a consultant study has found. The city hired MSW Consultants to review the trash rates downtown and propose a new rate model. The City Commission will receive that report as part of its meeting Tuesday. City staff is asking the commission to determine what action should be taken regarding ...

What should a cemetery look like? City plans meeting to discuss decoration rules

City officials say grave decorations at the city’s cemeteries are getting out of hand, and the city is looking for public input about what it should do to manage the cemeteries’ appearance. The Parks and Recreation Department oversees three cemeteries — Oak Hill, Maple Grove and Memorial Park — and already has rules regarding decorations, including limits on the type and placement of decorations, but ...

City of Lawrence names a director for new Municipal Services and Operations

The City of Lawrence has named a director for its Municipal Services and Operations Department, which was created earlier this year following the merger of the city’s utilities and public works departments. City Manager Tom Markus announced in a news release Wednesday that Dave Wagner has been hired as the Municipal Services and Operations Department director. Wagner, who was formerly the director of ...

Mistake in bidding process causes delay in downtown canopy removal

A mistake made in the bidding process means a one-block canopy in downtown Lawrence will not be removed this summer as planned. Brandon McGuire, assistant to the city manager, said that the contractor selected for the approximately $350,000 project was getting ready to begin when city staff realized the proper authorizations had not been provided for the contract. More specifically, McGuire said that because ...

Lawrence Police Department to begin testing body cameras soon

Some Lawrence police officers will soon begin testing body cameras in preparation for a department rollout. A memo to the City Commission from earlier this summer stated that the anticipated body camera testing period would be September through November, and police department representatives say preparations to begin testing are underway. The body camera program will be fully implemented sometime next year, ...

Local firefighters union to push for more firefighters, new station

Government leaders can expect to be hearing more from the local firefighters union about increasing Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical’s staffing levels. The Lawrence Professional Firefighters, Local 1596 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, announced in a news release Tuesday that it would begin focusing its efforts to “secure an increase to fire department resources,” including the ...

Upcoming city building projects to include $450K of public art

As the city of Lawrence prepares for several large-scale building and renovation projects, there is another element in the pipeline — hundreds of thousands of dollars for public art. Several multimillion-dollar building projects mean that the city’s long-standing resolution allowing it to set aside up to 2 percent of a project’s budget for public art is allocating a significant amount of funds. Together, ...

Two Lawrence neighborhoods named best in Kansas

The Kansas Leadership Center has named the four best neighborhoods in Kansas, and two of them are in Lawrence. As part of the center’s quarterly publication, The Journal, judges reviewed nominations from across the state and named East Lawrence and Delaware Street Commons as two of the best neighborhoods for 2018, along with College Hill in Topeka and Rosedale in Kansas City, Kan. The Journal noted that ...

City leaders repeal decades-old restriction on alcohol sales

City leaders have repealed a decades-old restriction on alcohol sales that, at least in recent years, was rarely enforced but required them to go through a time-consuming review process. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission struck a provision from city code that restricted alcohol sales within 400 feet of a school or church. The original concept for the provision was enacted in October ...

Lawrence City Commission approves employment contract and pay raises for police

After months of negotiations between city staff and the local police union, city leaders have approved an employment contract for officers and detectives valued at approximately $11 million annually. The city’s employment agreement with the Lawrence Police Officers Association covers wages, benefits and working conditions for officers and detectives and expires at the end of this year. Under the new ...

City of Lawrence notified of wastewater discharge from Topeka

The City of Lawrence was contacted Wednesday afternoon by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the City of Topeka about a wastewater discharge by the City of Topeka, according to a news release from the City of Lawrence. KDHE issued a health advisory stating that a main break near Interstate 70 caused sewage to flow into Wanamaker Creek, which is a tributary to the Kansas River. The KDHE ...

More than 200 animals adopted in Lawrence as part of Clear the Shelters Day

The Lawrence Humane Society found homes for more than 200 animals over the weekend. On Saturday, the Humane Society waived adoption fees as part of Clear the Shelters Day, a nationwide initiative in which animal shelters across the country try to find homes for every adoptable pet in their care. Humane Society spokeswoman Meghan Scheibe said 225 animals were adopted on Saturday, breaking the Humane Society's ...