WRITER: Mackenzie Clark

Judges, sheriff’s captain concerned about security in Lawrence’s Judicial and Law Enforcement Center

Douglas County District Court Chief Judge Peggy Kittel recently shared with county leaders several concerns about security in the local hub of criminal justice. “I have to say, we are really lucky that we have not had an incident here,” she told Douglas County commissioners during their Wednesday work session on downtown space planning. The Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, 111 E. 11th St., houses ...

Douglas County budget will likely raise taxes; commission plans to fund drug court

Though Douglas County commissioners have not given final approval to a 2020 budget, they did reach a consensus Wednesday on a plan that would raise the mill levy by 0.429 mills. If approved, the budget would raise the mill levy from 46.015 to 46.444. That’s a total of roughly $1,068 in annual property taxes for the owner of a $200,000 home — a $10 increase from last year. Interim County Administrator ...

Douglas County Commission to discuss downtown space needs, options

Douglas County commissioners at their Wednesday work session will discuss possibilities for a downtown master plan that would address some space issues. The county hired the architecture firm Gould Evans to conduct a space needs study in 2017. The study found that the county's downtown buildings are out of room and that current solutions are reactive, resulting in “less-than-ideal solutions.” According ...

Lawrence school board to hear report on student behavior, attendance and more

The Lawrence school board on Monday will hear an end-of-year report on student behavior, attendance, surveys and assessment scores. “These data points can be indicators of the general health of our school system and provide some insights on the effectiveness of programmatic decisions,” according to a memo to the board from Zachary Conrad, the district’s executive director of research, evaluation and ...

Lawrence peer specialist to start free chronic pain support group

A peer specialist in Lawrence is starting up a free support group for those who experience chronic pain. Annie Ross, certified peer specialist, said she thinks the support group is needed in the community. She said clients, physicians, social workers and clergy members have told her they wish there was a group to which they could refer people. The peer support group is not supported by any particular ...

Healthy Outlook: Juul info, stress reduction and more from Douglas County's behavioral health summit

DCCCA and Douglas County hosted the second annual Behavioral Health Prevention Summit on Tuesday, and more than 220 people showed up. The daylong event was free for those who live and work within the county this year, and it offered 15 total breakout sessions. Naturally, I couldn’t attend them all, but I thought I’d share some takeaways from the ones I could. Last week, the Journal-World reported on the ...

Douglas County Commission approves expansion of care coordination; Kelly requests race data

Douglas County commissioners on Wednesday approved expanding a program in which care coordinators “walk with” clients through behavioral health recovery, as its supporters put it. Bob Tryanski, the county’s director of behavioral health projects, and Stacey Cooper, supervisor of intensive case management/clinical coordinator for Heartland RADAC, talked to the commission about Intensive Care Coordination, ...

Douglas County Commission to consider expanding intensive behavioral health program

Douglas County commissioners on Wednesday will consider expanding a wraparound behavioral health program to make it available seven days a week. Intensive Care Coordination, or ICC, services are made available to some clients who visit the emergency room, have contact with law enforcement or are referred by a community partner as a result of mental health or substance use crises. ICC links and engages those ...

Wellness, mental health app now available free for Douglas County residents

An app that offers abundant resources for mental and physical health and wellness is now available for free to Douglas County residents. The Douglas County Commission approved a contract for the app, called myStrength, at its Jan. 30 meeting. It’s now online and available for free to anyone who lives within the county. Sonia Jordan, director of informatics at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, ...

Marijuana expert: Prime time for Kansas public health officials to talk legalization

It’s a good time for public health officials to get in on the ground floor — before the debate really kicks into full gear — on legalization of marijuana in Kansas, a subject expert says. Andrew Freedman, who was the state of Colorado’s first director of marijuana coordination, gave the keynote speech Tuesday at the Douglas County Behavioral Health Prevention Summit at the DoubleTree by Hilton. ...

Community conversation to address food security, personal health in Lawrence, Douglas County

At a community meeting Thursday at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, the Douglas County Community Foundation hopes to bring area partners, individuals and new voices together in one space to talk about the big-picture issues of food security and personal health. "This session will largely revolve around the idea of health equity and how we can really move the needle for those who may be food insecure as well as ...

Douglas County may have to pay city of Lawrence $263K in overhead for Fire Medical

Budget hearing schedule updated at 3:08 p.m. Monday, July 1: Based on a change to the city of Lawrence budget, Douglas County may have to chip in an extra $263,067 in overhead for Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical in 2020. Next year, the city will move its human resources, information technology, finance administration and risk management into an internal service fund, according to the city manager’s ...

Proposed 'status quo' budget would leave Douglas County mill levy flat

Story updated at 3:07 p.m. Monday, July 1: The interim Douglas County administrator has proposed a budget that maintains the current mill levy — however, Sarah Plinsky said, she “would call it a ‘status quo’ or ‘inflationary increases only’ budget.” Any new programs or substantial expansions would have to come at the discretion of Douglas County commissioners. Plinsky said her proposed budget ...

Douglas County Commission approves construction managers for jail expansion, behavioral health housing

The Douglas County Commission at its meeting Wednesday approved bids from Mar Lan Construction and Turner Construction to serve as construction managers at risk for housing portions of the behavioral health campus and an expansion of the Douglas County Jail, respectively. Mar Lan, the low bid, will complete preconstruction services for behavioral health housing for $5,000. Turner, the high bid for the jail ...

Douglas County commissioners approve Lawrence Community Shelter’s $148K request

After years of financial issues at the Lawrence Community Shelter, its board sought supplemental funding of $148,000 from the Douglas County Commission. Commissioners on Wednesday approved the request, each noting that the shelter couldn’t be allowed to close its doors but also offering their thoughts and suggestions to the three present members of the shelter’s board of directors. Commission Chair ...

Douglas County Commission to vote on construction managers for jail expansion, behavioral health housing

Douglas County commissioners at their Wednesday meeting will consider bids for construction managers at risk for two projects: an expansion of the Douglas County Jail, and housing components of the behavioral health campus. Commissioners Michelle Derusseau and Nancy Thellman have long supported an expansion of the jail, citing poor conditions for inmates, overcrowding and the need to house inmates in other ...

Drug court pilot program to be considered in Douglas County budget

Although plans aren’t yet fully fleshed out, the Douglas County Commission will consider a proposed drug court as part of its budget process for 2020. As part of ongoing efforts to provide alternatives to incarceration and reduce recidivism, particularly for those with substance use disorders, leaders in Douglas County’s criminal justice system have been considering adding a second specialty court. The ...

Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to discuss proposals for drug court, study of services

The Douglas County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council will meet Tuesday, and among items on its agenda are proposals for a drug court and for a study that could have implications for a proposed expansion of the local jail. County commissioners attended a work session on drug court in April, the Journal-World reported. There, a staff member told them that in her previous experience in Cass County, Mo., a ...

Healthy Outlook: Behavioral health summit coming up, senior health rankings and more news and notes

The Douglas County Behavioral Health Prevention Summit returns on June 25, and it’s grown a bit since its debut last year. The summit features two keynote speakers on topics of the future of cannabis policy and fentanyl, new drugs and prevention, according to its agenda. Then three breakout sessions will offer four topics apiece, including opioids, trauma, suicide intervention, human trafficking, vaping and ...

Zero Suicide initiative would mean 'real change,' leader tells Douglas County Commission

“Help is available.” Monica Kurz told Douglas County commissioners that’s a phrase she uses all the time in her work. “It's a message I want to put out there, and it's a message that needs to be true,” the director of Headquarters’ Kansas Suicide Prevention Resource Center said during the commission’s Wednesday work session on the Zero Suicide initiative. She explained: “We think that there's ...