WRITER: Elvyn Jones

Undersheriff won't recommend portable cells as solution to Douglas County jail overcrowding

Undersheriff Gary Bunting will tell the Douglas County Commission on Wednesday that the sheriff’s office does not recommend that portable modular units be used to solve overcrowding at the county jail. Bunting will report on the cost to install and staff modular units. The report is a follow-up to a presentation Bunting gave commissioners in September on jail population numbers. At the September meeting, ...

Baldwin City inviting visitors to 'branch out' with annual Maple Leaf Festival

The maple trees lining the brick streets of Baldwin City are beginning to display their fall splendor, just as a founder of the Maple Leaf Festival anticipated before the first festival 60 years ago. Ivan Boyd, one of the Baker University professors who founded the festival as a way to show off the community and university, applied his knowledge as a biology professor to select the third weekend in October as ...

Vinland Valley couple bringing artistic touch to Maple Leaf Festival

Donna Curran, longtime booth committee chair for the Maple Leaf Festival, said it takes something different for a first-time vendor to earn a spot at the popular autumn festival. Most of the vendors return year after year, and the 361 booth spaces usually are claimed four to five months before the festival. She does hold a few each year, though, for something different. This year, the application of the ...

Photo: Gardners' birthday party

Don “Red Dog” and Beverly Gardner, center and right, greet his sister-in-law MaryJo Green, left, at a gathering Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018 at Abe and Jake's Landing to mark their recent birthdays. Beverly celebrated her 63rd birthday on Oct. 5, and Don, a former Marine, Lawrence police officer and head of security Lawrence High School who has led community Dog Day fitness workouts for 35 years, turned 80 on Oct. ...

Lawrence school district, teachers union agree to 2nd day of federal mediation on 2018-19 contract

Negotiators from the Lawrence school district and the local teachers union will schedule a second meeting with a federal mediator after the first one failed to break their deadlock on the 2018-2019 teacher contract. David Cunningham, the district’s legal counsel and executive director of human resources, and Laurie Folsom, Lawrence Education Association president, said the two sides did make some progress ...

Douglas County official says scaled-back behavioral health projects are still a big step forward

Although plans for a new crisis center and enhanced mental health services have been scaled back by more than $700,000, Douglas County's director of behavioral health projects said the projects are still a big step forward for the county. “The good news is we are still committed to a broad array of services,” Bob Tryanski told the Douglas County Commission at its Wednesday meeting. Tryanski and a coalition ...

Lawrence school district, union to meet with federal mediator in attempt to end contract impasse

Negotiating teams from the Lawrence school district and the Lawrence Education Association will meet Wednesday with a mediator from the U.S. Department of Labor in an attempt to hammer out a teaching contract for the 2018-2019 school year. The district and the teachers union have been at an impasse since negotiations broke down on Aug. 29 over salary differences and union requests for assured compensation for ...

Official to reveal downsized plan for behavioral health campus

The man charged with developing new plans for a behavioral health campus and associated enhanced services will present the Douglas County Commission with ways to shave hundreds of thousands of dollars off of an earlier set of plans. The plans Bob Tryanski, county director of behavioral health projects, will share at a 6 p.m. presentation on Wednesday also will be the first look county voters will have at the ...

State juvenile justice reforms have major implications for Douglas County facilities

Sweeping changes stemming from the state’s 2016 reform of juvenile justice are calling into question the future of the Douglas County Juvenile Detention Center and the adjacent day school for at-risk students, said Pam Weigand, director of Douglas County Criminal Justice Services. The state in the 2016 legislative session enacted juvenile justice reforms that were meant to reduce the number of youths in ...

Assessment scores reveal continued racial achievement gap; Lawrence district leaders plan to hold principals accountable

Superintendent Anthony Lewis and administrative staffers told the Lawrence school board Monday that the district is looking to improve the performance of minority students by holding principals accountable to be instructional leaders and through the use of data to identify where students are struggling. That discussion came after Terry McEwen, district director of assessment, research and accountability, ...

Lawrence school board to receive report on 2018 state assessments

District staff will present to the Lawrence school board on Monday the results of state assessments that students took last spring. In a report to the board, Terry McEwen, district director of assessment, research and accountability, wrote that the results will reflect math, English language arts, science and history/government/social studies assessments the students took in the spring. McEwen did not provide ...

Kansas House candidates call for Medicaid expansion, differ on need to overhaul Department for Children and Families

There was unanimous agreement on the need to expand Medicaid in the state at a Sunday forum for the two contested races for Douglas County-area Kansas House seats. Candidates to represent the 45th District of extreme west Lawrence, Lecompton and western rural areas of the county, and the 42nd District, which includes Eudora, Tonganoxie and other sections of southwest Leavenworth County, participated in a ...

Oldest active Boy Scout troop in Lawrence celebrates its 100th anniversary

The temperatures were a bit chilly for Saturday's 100th anniversary celebration of Lawrence's oldest active Boy Scout troop, but that didn't bother Boy Scout Dillon Genicke. In fact, the weather was ideal for roasting marshmallows, he said. Dillon, 11, kept busy toasting treats for those visiting the west campus of Lawrence United Methodist Church for Lawrence Boy Scout Troop 52's big bash. His station was one ...

City hopes to work with KU to research unified government; county still not interested

Lawrence’s city leaders resolved Tuesday to do further research into a unified city-county government, but a day later, Douglas County commissioners restated that they were not interested in the idea of unification. The Lawrence City Commission, whose members had first brought up the topic with county commissioners at a Sept. 19 joint meeting of local governing bodies, discussed the issue again during its ...

Douglas County to hear information on modular cells as possible solution to jail overcrowding

Douglas County Undersheriff Gary Bunting will provide county commissioners on Wednesday with information on the cost of installing portable, modular cell units at the county jail and will discuss the pros and cons of their use in addressing overcrowding. Last month, Bunting shared with commissioners an Aug. 2 snapshot of the county’s inmate population that revealed that it had 244 people incarcerated on that ...

Hillcrest Elementary earns U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon Award

A small plaque in the principal's office explains why the U.S. Department of Education recognized Lawrence's Hillcrest Elementary as a 2018 National Blue Ribbon School, Hillcrest Principal Tammy Becker said. The plaque reads "Teamwork (noun): The collaborative action of a group, especially when effective or efficient." “That’s a big part of it,” Becker said of the award, which was announced Monday. ...

Douglas County Commission to consider raising age to 21 to buy tobacco products in unincorporated areas

The Douglas County Commission will consider a measure Wednesday that would require customers to be 21 before they can legally purchase tobacco products in rural county stores. The measure won’t have widespread implications because it would only apply to four stores in the county’s unincorporated area. On Sept. 12, representatives from LiveWell Douglas County, the Lawrence Boys & Girls Club, Lawrence ...

'Work your contract': Lawrence teachers can't strike, but they are cutting back in other ways

Minutes after the Aug. 29 contract negotiations between the Lawrence school district and the Lawrence Education Association broke down, chief union negotiator David Reber told the approximately 200 teachers who had attended the meeting that, under state law, they could not strike. But he added an important caveat: Teachers could simply "work your contract." What Reber was urging teachers to do was to not work ...

Lawrence school board approves $43.5M bond sale

The Lawrence school board approved a $43.5 million bond sale Monday, for an interest rate to the district of 3.45 percent. David Arteberry, of the district bond consulting firm George K. Baum, said the low bidder for the $43.5 million in 20-year bonds offered at noon Monday was Mesirow Financial Inc., of New York City. It was one of eight bidders on the bonds, he said. The bids were very competitive with less ...

Lawrence school board to consider $43.5M bond sale

The Lawrence school board will learn Monday how much it will cost to issue debt for the second half of its 2017 $87 million bond issue. On the agenda when the board meets at 7 p.m. Monday at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive, is the approval of a $43.5 million bond sale. The board will consider bids it receives from a public sale of the bonds, scheduled for noon Monday. The school board sold the first ...