WRITER: Elvyn Jones

Justice Matters presents County Commission with $30,000 offer to help with criminal justice system study

Faith-based activist group Justice Matters has presented the Douglas County Commission with an offer to provide $30,000 toward the cost of a study into reducing the incarceration rate at the county jail. Brent Hoffman, of Justice Matters, told commissioners at their meeting Wednesday that Justice Matters had spoken with an anonymous donor who was willing to provide $30,000 for a comprehensive study of the ...

Officials now expect deeper decrease to property tax rate in Lawrence school district

The Lawrence school board approved Monday a 2018-2019 budget for publication that reduces the mill levy by 1.324 mills. The published budget establishes maximum 2018-2019 total district expenditures at $170.8 million. The published budget also establishes a 54.626 mill levy, which will raise $63.39 million in property tax revenue in 2018-2019 for the district. At 54.626 mills, the district’s share of taxes on ...

With half the normal rainfall through July, Lawrence experiencing 'extreme drought'

Lawrence is experiencing “extreme drought” as a result of the city receiving just half the normal amount of rainfall through the first seven months of 2018, according to the National Climate Data Center. As of Tuesday, the official National Weather Service station at Lawrence Municipal Airport had recorded 12.04 inches of rain in 2018, said Bryan Baerg, meteorologist with the Topeka NWS office. That is ...

County Commission to consider final spending levels for 2018 capital projects

The Douglas County Commission is expected to approve final spending levels for this year's capital improvement projects at its meeting Wednesday. Sarah Plinsky, assistant county administrator, said commissioners already approved spending $1.22 million on facility-related projects and $5.82 million on road and bridge projects. However, those costs were based on estimates made before the projects began. ...

Vinland Valley 4-H'er prepares for county fair swan song

Lacey Vesecky has had a busy summer, but she won’t let that make her unprepared for the livestock arena at this week’s Douglas County Fair. “That doesn’t happen with Vesecky kids,” she said. The 19-year-old Lacey is preparing for the Douglas County Fair with her 17-year-old sister Holly on the Vinland Valley farm of her parents, William and Joanna Vesecky. The fair offers different things to ...

School board to consider approving budget for publication at special meeting

The Lawrence school board will have a special meeting at 7 p.m. Monday to consider approving the district's 2018-2019 budget for publication. If the board approves publication of the budget in the Journal-World as expected, the action will set a public hearing on the budget for 7 p.m. Aug. 13. The published budget will establish the maximum district expenditures for the coming school year, which can't be ...

Douglas County leader says copying Johnson County's programs for inmates is a matter of scale

The leader of the Douglas County Commission says she and her fellow commissioners are already giving thought on how to implement scaled-down versions of programs they viewed on a tour of Johnson County's correctional facilities. On Friday, Douglas County Commission Chair Nancy Thellman, commissioners Mike Gaughan and Michelle Derusseau and a number of county staff members toured a 50-bed substance abuse ...

Retired KU professor, founder of life span institute honored with 100th birthday party

As he surveyed the two rooms filled with well-wishers Saturday at the University of Kansas Adams Alumni Center, Richard Schiefelbusch said he wasn't surprised by the turnout. “When you live 100 years, you make a lot of friends,” he said. With his great sense of humor and openness, Schiefelbusch, a distinguished professor emeritus in speech and language pathology, may have made more friends than other ...

Tight labor market making it more difficult for Lawrence schools to fill positions

A tight job market is making it harder for the Lawrence school district to fill vacant food-service, custodial and paraprofessional positions before school starts in three weeks, said David Cunningham, the district's executive director of human resources and its chief legal counsel. On Tuesday morning, the school district hosted a four-hour job fair at the district office for the positions. Three hours into the ...

Douglas County Commission grants tax relief for fire-damaged home, meets in executive session on legal issue

The Douglas County Commission spent most of its Wednesday meeting in executive session to discuss an undisclosed matter involving the Douglas County Department of Criminal Justice Services. Joining Commissioners Nancy Thellman, Mike Gaughan and Michelle Derusseau and county legal counselor John Bullock in the closed-door 40-minute discussion was Douglas County Administrator Craig Weinaug, Assistant County ...

Douglas County officials to tour Johnson County facilities for ideas on how to reduce overcrowding at jail

After a Wednesday meeting with a short agenda, Douglas County commissioners will reconvene Friday to tour two Johnson County facilities to examine options for reducing overcrowding in the Douglas County Jail. Douglas County Administrator Craig Weinaug said two or more commissioners would be among county officials and Criminal Justice Coordinating Council members taking part in a Friday tour of the Johnson ...

New Watkins window panels tell stories of city's past, present

Sandra Wolf was impressed by what she saw during an unveiling Sunday of the nine new window panels on the third floor of the Watkins Museum of History. “It’s very well done,” she said during the open house of the information provided on the panels that cover nine large windows on the third floor’s southern exposure. “There’s a lot of information on Lawrence history.” Wolf said she started with ...

Lawrence school board told 2018-2019 mill levy to decrease

Taxpayers could see nearly a 1-mill break next school year, according to Kathy Johnson, who presented the Lawrence school board an estimate of the district’s 2018-2019 mill levy on Monday. The district's executive director of finances provided that budget estimate along with an update of the state’s new K-12 school finance formula and its consequence to Lawrence public schools. The Kansas Supreme Court ...

Douglas County 4-H Dog Show unofficially gets 2018 fair underway

Tristen Kapelle came to Saturday’s Douglas County 4-H Dog Show with one goal in mind. “I’m here to win,” the 13-year-old Palmyra 4-H Club member said. Two hours later, Tristen and his Australian blue heeler Tripp left the show with the best-in-show Mary Berg Award for showmanship. Kelly Kapelle, Tristen’s mother, said that was a pretty good result considering it was the first time Tristen and his ...

Increase in inmate cell time adds to stress at county jail

Overcrowding is giving inmates less time to take advantage of the already limited exercise opportunities at the Douglas County Jail, Undersheriff Gary Bunting says. The number of inmates in all classifications of male maximum-, medium- and minimum-security continues to exceed cells available at the jail, Bunting said. That is true of women inmates, too, who are housed in a single classification pod. It’s the ...

Man arrested after reportedly fleeing the scene of Lake View Lake accident

A 39-year-old man was arrested after reportedly fleeing on foot from the scene of a Sunday morning accident at Lake View Lake. Sgt. Kristen Channel, spokeswoman for the Douglas Sheriff’s Office, said Leland White, 39, was southbound in the 1800 block of East 1125 Road when he allegedly crashed a 2004 Ford pickup into a bushy embankment on the north side of Lake View Lake, which is north of the Kansas Turnpike ...

Westar to build solar power farm in Baldwin City

Baldwin City Administrator Glenn Rodden says the hot summer sun should be working for residents of the southern Douglas County city by this time next year. On July 17, The Baldwin City Council agreed to start negotiations with Westar Energy to build a solar panel farm at the city public works yard in the 1000 block of Orange Street. Westar was one of five firms responding to the city's request for proposals ...

Proposed Baldwin City, Eudora 2019 budgets keep mill levies steady

Flat is a word that defines the 2019 mill levies proposed for the cities of Baldwin City and Eudora. Baldwin City Administrator Glenn Rodden and Eudora City Manager Barack Matite said proposed 2019 budgets will keep flat the mill levies of their respective cities of 44.498 mills in Baldwin City and 39.499 mills in Eudora. At those rates, the city’s share of taxes on a $175,000 home would be $895 in Baldwin ...

Lawrence school board looks to make final 2018-2019 priority funding decisions

Now that there is certainty regarding how much money the district will receive for the coming school year, the Lawrence school board on Monday will look to make final funding priorities for the 2018-2019 school year. The board decided in May to hire three new full-time special education teachers and two middle school behavioral health interventionists at the cost of $212,000 for 2018-2019, but passed on other ...