Crystal Swearingen Discusses the State of Residential Real Estate in Lawrence

Crystal Swearingen - President, Lawrence Board of RealtorsCrystal Swearingen, a realtor with McGrew Realty and president of the Lawrence Board of Realtors said her job is both rewarding and challenging.

The ups and downs of real estate, tied in with both the health of the community and of the economy and the development of technology  keep realtors on their toes, she said.

“The first half of 2015 from January through June finished strong,” Swearingen said.

Seven hundred seventy homes sold in the period compared to 633 homes in the same period in 2014 and 698 home sold during the entire year in 2011.”

The $150,000-$300,000  price range for single family homes has been the sweet spot for the Lawrence market and the measure of inventory levels, the “Months Supply” of homes, is at the lowest it has been in many years.

“Lawrence realtors work to build better relations with home owners and to have Lawrence continue to be a place of good jobs and good wages,” she said. “We work with the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.”

A new generation is used to doing everything on line and this has created a problem for realtors when prospective buyers do their shopping on the internet.

When asked where she predicts the city will expand she said she really doesn’t know. A lot of it depends on school placement. She said she believes the South Lawrence Traffic way is going to be  good for the market.

Questions for the future, in addition to expansion, she said, are affordable housing in Lawrence, how many rentals are too many, and  what the economy will do next.

Scott Campbell & Jane Huesemann Talk KU Field Station and Bee Hotel

Scott Campbell DSC_0265 small imageKU Biological Survey Researcher Scott Campbell visited Lawrence Central to talk about a hidden gem on the northern outskirts of Lawrence – The KU Field Station and our own Jane Huesemann was on hand to explain her firm’s part in a project on one of the field station’s trails.

Technically it is the “biological field station of the University of Kansas, was established in 1947. Its mission is to foster scholarly research, environmental education and science-based stewardship of natural resources.

The Field Station is situated within the grassland/forest transition zone (ecotone) of North America, where the eastern deciduous forest and tallgrass prairie biomes meet. Faculty, students and visiting researchers use the Field Station’s diverse native and managed habitats, experimental systems, support facilities and long-term databases to undertake an outstanding array of scholarly activities. The Field Station is available to any person or group whose research, teaching, or conservation interests are compatible with our mission.”

In real people terms that means the KU Field Station has become a small island of nature and biodiversity in an otherwise settled landscape, thus highly valuable for research.

Jane HuesemannThere are trails for the public to explore and see, but the newest public trail amenity is a “Bee Hotel” which is a “sustainable resting space for solitary pollinator bees, which make up over 90% of the bee population. They are local bees that pollinate flowers and other plants. Solitary pollinators work independently to spread
pollen from plant to plant, flower to flower. Solitary bees are different than honey bees.  They live individually, rather than as part of a hive, and they don’t make honey. The Hotel “rooms” are designed as small tunnels. Different species occupy different diameters of tunnels and will construct a series of ‘cells’ in each room. ”

beehotel600Places like this are important because bees play a keystone role in food production and in the beauty of our world through the pollination of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and flowers but these essential pollinators are
under threat and need our help. Bee numbers are declining and, for the solitary bee, this is mainly due to loss of habitat and safe living quarters. The plan was to help them by providing safe and well-designed places to stay. The hotel was researched and designed by Clark Huesemann and built and installed by Prosoco as a part of the USGBC Green Apple Day of Service with help from local Girl Scouts.

“The bee hotel adds another educational layer of interest to the features of the Rockefeller Prairie Trail,” said Scott Campbell, outreach and public service director for the Kansas Biological Survey, which manages the KU Field Station.

The Rockefeller trail, part of the Field Station’s five-mile public trail system, is ADA-compliant and runs along native and restored prairie. Amenities include interpretive signage, a restroom, a drinking fountain and benches. At the trail’s turnaround point, the Overlook deck, built by KU architecture students, offers a view across the Kansas River valley to Mount Oread.

Images from the flier that promotes the project are below with instructions on how you could create your own bee hotel.

BEE HOTEL Handout 2.0 final_Page_1 BEE HOTEL Handout 2.0 final_Page_2


Sister Cities Travelers Visit Lawrence Central

Haley Lockwood-Peterson and Nia RutledgeIt was a day to celebrate young people, their families and other guests at Lawrence Central Rotary on August 12 when two Lawrence teen-agers presented a program about their experiences in a sister city exchange this summer and Kevin Munge, an exchange student from Helsinborg, Sweden  was introduced.

Nia Rutledge and Haley Lockwood-Peterson each  spent 10 days in Hiratsuka, Japan, living with local families, soaking up local culture, going on field trips and even taking time to do some shopping. Nia had made a video of the highlights of her trip and  Haley passed around pictures she had taken.  Both had been sponsored by Central Rotary and were at the meeting with parents and grandparents.

Lawrence youth in grades seven to twelve are eligible for a Sister Cities’ Exchange Program that involves 10 days in a Lawrence Sister City. Ken Albrecht of the Sister Cities’ Advisory Board also attended the meeting and thanked Central Rotary for its support of  what he called “a very worthy project.”

Haley said she would like to be bilingual and believed this was a good start.  She is still in contact with the families who were her hosts. Nia said her impressions of Japan included crowded streets, the Tabata Festival (similar to our Fourth of July), learning about Japanese food and a fireworks display on her last night there.

Kevin, who had only been in Lawrence for two days, said he is adjusting quickly and is looking forward to playing soccer at Free State High School where he will be a senior this year.

LCR Big Crowd


Becca Burns Discusses Shelter, Help, and Hope from The Willow

Kate Campbell & Beccas Burns

Becca Burns presents Kate Campbell with a certificate of appreciation from the Willow.

Shelter, Help, Hope are the offerings of  The Willow Domestic Violence Center  and Becca Burns, Willow director of Volunteer Services , outlined each for Central Rotarians on July 29. Burns also presented Central Rotary president Kate Campbell with a certificate of appreciation for the club’s support of  The Willows through donations of goods and services.

Domestic violence is not just physical violence, although it is often included, Burns said. Violence can be psychological, financial, sexual and spiritual. Abusers can use threats, manipulation, and isolation against a partner.

And, even when children are not the target of the abuser, although 40 to 60 percent are, 100 percent of children who live in an abusive home are damaged.The most resilient children are the ones who have a good relationship with the non-abusive parent and connections to other loved ones, she said.

The Willow offers a 24-hour hot line, a safe shelter home, court advocacy, and intervention. It provides a range of services for children both in the shelter and in the community, ranging from art and music programs to healthy parent classes and information about the effects of domestic violence on children.

“One of our most important jobs,” Burns said “is to make sure people know they are believed and that resources are readily available.It also helps all victims of abuse to know, through The Willow,  that others have been through this and are now doing well. It takes away the isolation.”

The Willow hot line phone is 785-843-3333.

Local Counselor Abby Young Uses Heart–Centered Hypnotherapy To Help Patients

Abby YoungAbby Young is a licensed counselor who uses hypnotherapy in her work. “But,” she said smiling at her audience of Central Rotary Rotarians, “it’s not the kind of entertainment hypnosis people have heard about. I don’t make people quack like a duck.”

She is a graduate of KU in journalism and worked for a while as a photojournalist. But episodes of depression and anxiety prompted her to consult a therapist who helped her and spurred her interest in social work and therapy.

“An entrepreneurial shift and an undirected life shift” are what she said led her to take training in hypnotherapy.

“Stage hypnosis is a state that resembles sleep,” she said. “Hypnotherapy is the use of a relaxed state to provide therapeutic benefit. “Ten percent of our thinking is conscious,” she said “ 90 percent deals with the subconscious—long term memories, emotions, habit patterns, addictions, creativity all dwell in the subconscious.”

She trained in the Wellness Institute style and works a lot with age regression, taking some of her clients back to childhood.

“People repress emotions and don’t experience them fully. Going in deeper makes people uncomfortable but we can experience emotions, work on expressing them and come to new conclusions.”

She is a counselor with Tillery Time Counseling with offices in Lawrence and Ottawa and is one of the leaders for a Good Earth Gatherings workshop, August 22 in Baldwin “Letting Go: Living Free of Shame.”

Dole Institute Senior Archivist Audrey Coleman Discusses Preserving Digital Treasures

Audrey ColemanLawrence Central Rotary’s own Audrey Coleman spoke on her work as Head Archivist at the Dole Institute of Politics and discussed the importance of preserving personal digital records. The Institute honors Senator Bob Dole “by promoting political and civic participation in a by-partisan and balanced manner.” The Institute provides educational displays, archives and programs to achieve this mission. Audrey reported that Dole is active at 91 years of age and frequently consults with staff members of the Institute. The archivists receive about 300 research requests a year. Researchers may work on site or hire a local researcher. Finding aids have been created to assist researchers including a key word search that identifies specific folders of information.

Audrey noted that the explosion of digital information is both a benefit and a challenge. Unfortunately, digital images and documents can be easily misplaced or can deteriorate and become lost forever. The following steps were recommended to preserve valuable digital records. First, identify your most important digital files and their location. Next, save the highest quality versions with multiple copies and tag the files with dates and names. Finally, store the results on computer, CD, DVD, thumb drive and utilize an Internet storage company. Saved files should be reviewed annually and copied to new media every five years. Commercial firms can assist with this process.

In closing, Audrey urged people to attend an event at the Institute to celebrate the opening of a new display commemorating the 25th anniversary of the passage of the American Disability Act. The event is on Sunday, July 26, 2:00-4:00 p.m.