WRITER: Kim Callahan

Interim Police Chief Anthony Brixius

Of chief concern: Interim leader of Lawrence police stresses importance of conversations, accountability

Anthony Brixius didn’t grow up wanting to be a cop. After a childhood spent between Lawrence and Wichita, he had decided to become a teacher and, like his mother before him, enrolled at the University of Kansas, where he earned a degree in secondary education. He soon realized, though, that despite his “commitment to service,” standing in front of a classroom all day wasn’t the best fit for him. Nor ...

Nomadic family ready to hit the road again after 2-month pandemic delay

The Thomas family’s Great American itinerary did not include two months parked at a Baldwin City motel, but here they are. Before the family sold their home and most of their possessions to embark on their new nomadic life, they listed — and planned for — a lot that could go wrong. A deadly pandemic that would shut down the country was not on that list. Nor was it even in their wildest imagination as ...

Jui-jitsui

'Do what you want': Blind man's love of jiu jitsu makes inclusion easier for others

When opponents grapple with Nick Hoekstra in jiu jitsu they tend to hold back — at least at first. His blindness gives them pause. But when it becomes apparent that he is determined to win, their hesitation evaporates, and he becomes just like everyone else, an equal. That’s the world of the dojo, he says: a place of respect for all comers. It’s not the world itself, though, where fitting in and ...

Lawrence shows 'tremendous' response in fostering pets as pandemic disrupts normal operations of Humane Society

In Lawrence, as elsewhere across the country, residents have been stepping up in big numbers to care for animals in the community. The stay-at-home order issued by Douglas County to curb the coronavirus pandemic has led to unprecedented hardships, to be sure, but also has created a uniquely comforting circumstance for animals who need care and for people who long to feel useful. “A lot of people are at ...

Local film about immigration in Garden City wins festival award

A locally made film about immigration has won an award at the 2020 Borrego Springs Film Festival in Southern California. The film, “Strangers in Town,” co-directed by Lawrence resident Stephen Lerner and Reuben Aaronson of Los Angeles, won the People’s Choice Documentary award. Lerner said he wasn’t too surprised “because the response was huge at the screening, though you never know till it ...

Popular documentary about immigration to have another screening in Lawrence; online participation welcome

Long before the images of families separated at the border outraged many Americans, Lawrence resident Stephen Lerner was quietly outraged by the increasingly ugly tone of the immigration debate. “I started feeling very uncomfortable with watching that happen, both in the political process and in discussions everywhere, because the fact is we are a country of immigrants,” he told the Journal-World recently. ...

Matilda

A love of books and a disdain for bullies: Theatre Lawrence brings Roald Dahl's 'Matilda' to life

Before she started directing “Matilda” for Theatre Lawrence, Widge Yager did her homework on the man behind the musical. Roald Dahl, the beloved British author of the 1988 book on which the hit musical is based, had a particular worry as he was writing the story about his child genius: that TV would replace books in children’s lives. “He was legitimately concerned that children would not read anymore, ...

'The whole range of emotions': Flamenco performance to feature timeline of Spanish art form

Misconceptions about flamenco dancing abound, Melinda Hedgecorth can attest. Most people these days seem to know it has nothing to do with gangly pink birds, but plenty still think it’s a simpler form of tango or salsa dancing — an assumption that Hedgecorth is eager to clear up. “It’s nothing like those things,” said Hedgecorth, a Kansas City native who has been studying and performing flamenco for ...

Glass art by Kathi Fair

Glass artist hits her stride at 65; see her work and others' this weekend at Lawrence ArtWalk

Kathi Fair never thought of herself as artistic, partly because she was never encouraged as a young person to do so. But now she knows better. “You can escape what people tell you,” she said of her artistic “awakening” in her mid-50s. That’s when, after working as an auctioneer and raising six kids with her husband, Bill Fair, she walked into a friend’s ceramic studio with the hankering to try ...

Radio host shares pain of family rejection ahead of event supporting LGBTQ families

Jordin Silver doesn’t want any kids to grow up the way she did: confused, alone, knowing she’d be more loved if she were more “normal.” “I’m 37, and gay was AIDS, gay was bad,” she said of her childhood in Old Orchard Beach, a small tourist town on the coast of Maine. “Life could have been so much different,” if she could have spoken about her sexuality to a sympathetic adult, if someone could ...

Loud war planes flying low over Lawrence rattle residents

The appearance of multiple low-flying military jets over Lawrence Friday morning rattled many residents. One caller — of many — to the Journal-World said the planes were so low that he could see details of the cockpit’s underside. He said he saw four jets make two very loud passes over Lawrence before flying off. Later Friday, Dan Beckler, a spokesman for Kansas Athletics, told the Journal-World that the ...

Lack of information during middle school lockdown led to needless 'terror,' parents say

The administration badly mismanaged a lockdown Tuesday at Liberty Memorial Central Middle School, causing needless panic and trauma among the young students there, according to some parents familiar with the situation. “For more than 15 — possibly 20 — minutes” hundreds of children “contemplated their own demise,” said Andrea Albright, the mother of a seventh grader, in a letter she sent to ...

Students safe after unfounded report of gun at Lawrence middle school; worried parent broke window to pull kids out

Story updated at 5:52 p.m. Tuesday A parent worried about his daughter’s safety broke a window late Tuesday morning at Liberty Memorial Central Middle School and helped pull several students out after he heard a report that someone with a gun was in the school. The report turned out to be a “miscommunication,” said Patrick Compton, a spokesman for the Lawrence Police Department. There was no threat, and ...

Theatre Lawrence kicks off 43rd season with a Broadway hit and a county official in starring role

The season opener for Theatre Lawrence is not just a chance to see a Broadway hit; it’s a chance to see a local politician playing a bunch of “really terrible people.” “I mean, they’re pretty awful,” said Douglas County Commissioner Patrick Kelly of the multiple characters — at least eight — that he plays in “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” which won four Tony Awards in 2014, ...

Lawrence middle school student recognized nationally for excelling at 'lost art' of cursive

Thirteen-year-old Rose Kennedy just got her first cellphone, a long-promised present for completing the seventh grade. Soon, she’ll undoubtedly be talented at “writing” with her thumbs, although that’s not a talent likely to win her a national award the way her cursive writing has. Nor is it likely to impress her grandmother in California quite as much. Her grandmother was the reason Rose developed ...

Rainbow group forms to help families in Lawrence school district navigate LGBTQ issues

As a kid in Lawrence, Isidore Weis didn’t know anyone like himself. “I didn’t personally know anyone who was gay or transgender,” Weis, now in college, says. He did, of course — statistically, we all do. What he means is he didn’t know anyone who was out. He didn’t know anyone well enough to talk to and share experiences with. It wasn’t until he was almost in high school, thanks largely to ...

Grandmother, classmates seek recognition for Eudora High student who died; principal says it's against policy

For Anita Musick, seeing her granddaughter graduate from high school was going to be especially sweet. Seventeen-year-old Aftyn Hankins had had a sad and troubled childhood, and she had bounced around a handful of area schools. Her experiences had left her “rough around the edges," her grandmother says, but ready to get on with her adult life. Finishing high school was an important milestone in that journey, ...

Lawrence school district investigating possible carbon monoxide exposure at elementary school

Updated at 2:42 p.m. Monday The Lawrence school district is investigating possible carbon monoxide exposure at Kennedy Elementary School that may have affected the health of at least two staff members. The two employees informed the district that they had tested positive for elevated carbon monoxide levels. As the district inspected Kennedy Elementary, 1605 Davis Road, it discovered that a natural gas hot ...