WRITER: Austin Hornbostel

Harvesters Community Food Network to move Kansas distribution facility from Topeka to northwest Lawrence

Harvesters Community Food Network is moving its Topeka distribution facility to northwest Lawrence. Harvesters, a regional Feeding America food bank, is purchasing a property at 1220 Timberedge Road and plans to begin operating there by June of 2024; the nonprofit’s president and CEO, Stephen Davis, told the Journal-World last week that he expected to close the sale by late December. The property is in the ...

Douglas County leaders hear update on ARPA disbursements so far, approve budget to repair courthouse elevator

Douglas County leaders on Wednesday were briefed on the status of American Rescue Plan Act funding disbursements so far, as well as a new procedure for awardees who need to report changes to their ARPA project scopes or budgets. The Douglas County Commission heard a presentation on the topic at its Wednesday evening meeting. County staff reported that since the commission finished the process of allocating ARPA ...

Douglas County leaders to receive update on ARPA funding given out so far

This week, Douglas County leaders will learn more about how much aid has gone to the recipients of the county’s American Rescue Plan Act funding so far, and how those agencies can revise the scope of their proposed projects moving forward. In July, the commission decided on 14 county agencies that would receive about $15 million of the county’s ARPA funds. So far, county staff has executed nine funding ...

Housing Authority wants to use ARPA funds to help the elderly age in place for as long as possible with expanded Clinton Place property

With $3 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds in tow, the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority is aiming to add more affordable housing for one key demographic — senior citizens. Douglas County leaders granted the LDCHA the third-largest single funding allocation of any external agency in July. That money and some of the agency’s own reserve funds combined will help to fund a $4 million, 32-unit ...

New 'mobile crisis response team' to play a key role in Douglas County's response to behavioral health crises

If you're having a behavioral health crisis in Douglas County and you call for help, you might be assisted not by police or emergency medical personnel, but by a new mobile team that's specially trained to de-escalate mental health emergencies. Community leaders involved with Douglas County’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council recently heard more about the new “mobile crisis response team,” which began ...

Just Food's interim executive director set to depart in October; search for leader ongoing

Just Food’s interim executive director is departing effective Oct. 7, the food bank announced Wednesday morning in a news release. Brett Salsbury, who has served in the position since Just Food’s last executive director, Elizabeth Keever, left her role in May, will be returning to Las Vegas — Salsbury’s home prior to joining Just Food — to pursue other career opportunities. He’s been with the ...

Health department announces clinics offering new COVID boosters for anyone 12 and older

Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health has announced more than a dozen clinics throughout the next month where the latest version of the coronavirus booster, which is more effective against omicron subvariants, will be available for anyone 12 and older. The health department had recommended earlier this month that people with an existing booster appointment should hold off and reschedule when the new boosters ...

New Douglas County Commissioner Karen Willey sworn in

New District 3 Douglas County Commissioner Karen Willey was sworn into office ahead of the commission's meeting on Wednesday evening. Willey officially joins the commission after being selected for the position in late August at a convention of Democratic Party precinct committee members who live in the 3rd Commission District. She's finishing out the remainder of former commissioner Shannon Portillo's term, ...

Douglas County Commission to meet in executive session again; new commissioner to be sworn in

As of Tuesday, there’s just one item on the Douglas County Commission’s regular agenda for Wednesday: an executive session to consult with the Douglas County counselor regarding “matters that would be deemed privileged in the attorney-client relationship.” This is the third time commissioners will meet in an executive session since their Aug. 17 meeting. Executive sessions are not open to the ...

NextEra is still looking into viability of a wind farm in Douglas County; local landowners are divided

Talk of a wind farm located partially in southwest Douglas County, which first began late last year, may take a while to blow over. A representative with NextEra Energy Resources, a Florida-based energy firm, confirmed to the Journal-World Thursday that the company is still in the initial stages of gauging whether the area is the right place for a wind energy project. NextEra spokesperson Sara Cassidy said that ...

'I feel really ready,' incoming county commissioner says as she prepares to take office

Starting this week, there’s a new face serving on the Douglas County Commission. Karen Willey is joining the commission in place of Shannon Portillo, who’s moving away for a job at Arizona State University and who resigned effective Saturday. Willey was selected for the seat at an August convention of Democratic Party precinct committee people who live in the 3rd County Commission District. After she’s ...

$1M in ARPA funding will help Housing Stabilization Collaborative to continue providing rent and utility assistance

When the dust had settled on Douglas County leaders’ work to allocate more than $20 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding, Douglas County’s Housing Stabilization Collaborative was one of the beneficiaries. The collaborative works with a group of 12 partnering local service agencies and also facilitates rent and utility assistance and landlord best-practices programs and a monthly rental availability ...

Douglas County, City of Lawrence will be responsible for appointing Peaslee Tech's board under new joint resolution

The Douglas County commissioners on Wednesday followed suit with a decision made by their counterparts on the Lawrence City Commission a day earlier as they approved a joint resolution requiring that Peaslee Tech’s board of directors be appointed by the city and county. With both bodies’ approval, the county is now responsible for appointing four of the technical school’s board of seven members — one ...

County and City of Lawrence leaders could soon be responsible for appointing Peaslee Tech's board

Douglas County leaders may soon be responsible for appointing about half of Peaslee Tech’s board of directors. A joint resolution requiring that the technical school’s board of seven members be appointed by the City of Lawrence and Douglas County is on the agenda for this week’s Douglas County Commission meeting. Peaslee Tech has already approved a revision to its own bylaws allowing for its members to be ...

'I got to do things that I could never have imagined': Lawrence's first female Eagle Scout reflects on unique experience

Mariclare Murray may not be the first Eagle Scout in her family, but there’s at least one distinction that’s all her own: She’s the first female Eagle Scout in Lawrence. Murray, 18, followed in her two older brothers’ footsteps and joined Scouts BSA Troop 55 — chartered to West Side Presbyterian Church — in 2019 at age 14, when the organization began allowing girls to join. She achieved the Eagle ...

Leaders with Ballard Center call ARPA-funded building expansion a 'generational game-changer'

For nearly 60 years, the Ballard Center has been serving community members through “family stabilization” services like rent and utility assistance, a food and clothing pantry, and affordable pre-K child care. The nonprofit has been doing that work out of a 107-year-old building in North Lawrence, its home since 1964. The building has been renovated since the Ballard Center moved in, but never expanded. ...

Split in city, county sustainability offices provides for added focus on big-picture plans, leaders say

After previously operating through a combined office, the City of Lawrence and Douglas County have split into their own separate Sustainability Offices. That change became official in mid-August, when the county announced that Kim Criner Ritchie will lead the Douglas County office as sustainability manager, and Kathy Richardson will serve as the Lawrence office’s director. Both of them had been serving as ...

County sets date for town hall about proposal to extend Wakarusa Drive

Douglas County has announced a date for a town hall meeting about a proposed project extending Wakarusa Drive south of Lawrence. The town hall, first referenced by Douglas County Administrator Sarah Plinsky in a memo to the Douglas County Commission last week, has been set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, at the Greenbush Resource Center, formerly the Wakarusa Valley School, 1104 East 1000 Road. A brief ...

Douglas County leaders approve courthouse waterproofing project

Douglas County leaders on Wednesday approved moving forward with a waterproofing project at the Douglas County Courthouse that county staff called “crucial.” The commission agreed unanimously to a motion that will begin the process of waterproofing work to mitigate issues affecting the courthouse’s basement area. With that approval, county staff will direct Lawrence-based architectural design firm Hernly ...

Douglas County leaders to consider $1.5 million budget for waterproofing project in courthouse basement

Douglas County leaders this week could approve a nearly $1.5 million budget for a project that addresses waterproofing issues with the Douglas County Courthouse’s foundation. The project is on the agenda for Wednesday's Douglas County Commission meeting, and it’s intended to fix what’s described as “significant water infiltration issues” in the courthouse basement. The commission is set to receive a ...