WRITER: Elvyn Jones

Douglas County Commission approves 2019 budget that maintains current property tax rate

The Douglas County Commission took less than five minutes Wednesday to complete one of its most important actions of the year — unanimously approving the county’s 2019 budget. Douglas County Administrator Craig Weinaug noted that although the final budget action required little time, the budget was developed during more than 18 hours of hearings in June and July. The approved 2019 budget maintains the ...

Douglas County Commission to consider approving budget that shifts $3M to ease jail issues

The Douglas County Commission will consider Wednesday approving a 2019 budget that cuts or reallocates $3 million in current spending to be used for yet undefined measures to reduce overcrowding at the local jail. Commissioners approved the budget for publication last month after deliberations over the cuts. The proposed budget maintains the 2018 mill levy of 46.018 mills. At that rate, the county’s share of ...

Patrick Kelly gets more than half the votes to win Douglas County Commission race

Lawrence educator Patrick Kelly pulled away from two competitors to win the Democratic Party primary race for the 1st District Douglas County Commission position. Kelly led throughout the night Tuesday as votes were tallied in the Douglas County Courthouse and finished the night with 53 percent of the vote. A political newcomer, Kelly received 2,014 votes. Lawrence City Commissioner Leslie Soden was second with ...

Amyx, Smith prevail in Kansas House primaries, will square off in November

Democrat Mike Amyx and Republican Cynthia Smith will face off in November to represent the 45th District in the Kansas House after each claimed easy victories Tuesday in their respective primaries. Amyx, a former mayor of Lawrence, Lawrence city commissioner and Douglas County commissioner, won with 56 percent of the vote against Aidan Loveland Koster, a Lecompton corporate administrator, and Steven X. Davis, ...

Douglas County voters go to primary polls in record numbers

Douglas County voters turned out for Tuesday primary in record shattering numbers, Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said. More than 18,500 voters participated in the primary for a turnout of about 24 percent. The turnout number isn’t known because advance ballots the Clerk’s Office receives by Friday will still be counted in the election. But Shew won’t need to see final numbers to know this year’s ...

Lecompton volunteer group turns old school building into community hub once again

One of the volunteers who helped reclaim a closed and vacant school in Lecompton says he is pleased the building is once again a hub of community activities. “There’s something going on down there all the time,” said Greg Howard. “That’s satisfying, because we’ve done a great deal of work.” The approximately four-year old project has gone so well that community leaders are preparing to invest ...

No independent candidates file for 1st District Douglas County Commission

The noon Monday deadline for independent candidates to file for the 1st District Douglas County Commission passed with no activity, Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said. That means the winner of Tuesday’s three-way Democratic Party primary contest will have no opponent on the November general election ballot. The candidates are Patrick Kelly, director of the Lawrence College & Career Center, Lawrence ...

Vinland Fair to return for annual 3-day run

The organizers of the Vinland Fair believe people can entertain themselves without the help of a carnival. “Instead of a carnival, we have sack races, a tug of war, a children’s pet parade and the tractor pull,” said Tamara Hagerman, Vinland Fair Board member with her husband, Rex. “It is old-time family entertainment.” The 111th annual Vinland Fair will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the hamlet ...

One Douglas County Commission candidate now employed by another's insurance agency

Douglas County Commission candidate Leslie Soden is now working as an agent for the Farmers Insurance office of fellow candidate John Magnuson. Both candidates are seeking the Democratic Party nomination for the 1st District County Commission seat, which represents most Lawrence neighborhoods north of 19th Street and west of Massachusetts Street. Patrick Kelly, director of the Lawrence College & Career ...

Democrats in Douglas County's 1st Commission District to choose from 3 candidates Tuesday

In all likelihood, Democratic Party voters in the 1st Douglas County Commission District will elect a new county commissioner Tuesday. Three candidates — Patrick Kelly, John Magnuson and Leslie Soden — are vying for the Democratic nomination for the 1st District seat that represents most Lawrence neighborhoods north of 19th Street and west of Massachusetts Street. The winner will not face a Republican ...

Father: Girl, 5, recovered from Kansas River was 'really sweet girl and a great big sister'

The father of the 5-year-old girl whose body was recovered Saturday from the Kansas River said he hadn’t seen his daughter in 18 months and was worried about what he said was the deteriorating mental state of her mother. Clinton Tyler Bradley, of Columbia, Mo., said his daughter Amiyah Bradley was the girl whose body was recovered Saturday morning from the Kansas River. The girl was born during a two-year ...

Douglas County clerk says advance voting turnout is steady, about normal

Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew says advance voting for this year's primary elections has been steady and near normal. “We’re just a little ahead of the primary two years ago, but not by a lot,” he said. “We’re not seeing a huge turnout above normal. We have had a lot of phone calls requesting sample ballots and polling sites, so maybe we will have a good election day turnout." As of Friday, about ...

Kelly has big cash advantage in campaign for 1st District Douglas County Commission seat

Patrick Kelly has a large financial advantage in the Democratic Party primary race for the Douglas County 1st District Commission seat, having raised and spent significantly more than his two opponents. The three Democrats vying for the party’s nomination for the 1st District seat are Kelly, director of the Lawrence College and Career Center; Lawrence insurance agent John Magnuson; and Lawrence City ...

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 ...