Ernie Shaw, interim director of the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department, is shepherding the department through growth and changes while at the same time maintaining what is already in place.
“It’s a big job,” he said, explaining that he depends on public input, focus groups forums and surveys to create a clear set of goals and address future needs. He provides direction to city staff and city commissioners, and LPRD staff.Key issues include the need for more social media and marketing including more grant writers,
Key issues include the need for more social media and marketing including more grant writers, more full-time working staff, and higher pay for part-time workers.
He is concerned with, among other things, protecting the natural environment while upgrading existing facilities, and acquiring new park land including an additional dog park, more soccer fields, and an adventure park. He hopes, he said, to create more community-wide special events, more weekend tournaments, more family events and establish programs to go along with trails.Another goal is to improve the financial position of LPRD, creating a fund and a five-year budget. His office is doing economic development studies and looking at tactics such as increasing user fees, increasing sponsorship and a bond referendum.
Another goal is to improve the financial position of LPRD, creating a fund and a five-year budget. His office is doing economic development studies and looking at tactics such as increasing user fees, increasing sponsorship and a bond referendum.“Lawrence already has a great Parks and Recreation system and we’re looking to make it even larger and better,” he said.
“Lawrence already has a great Parks and Recreation system and we’re looking to make it even larger and better,” he said.
The members of the Open World team from Ukraine impressed everyone they met during their week-long stay in Lawrence. Lawrence Central Rotarians welcomed members of the Open World team from Ukraine to their meeting on September 28.
The group of five educators, their facilitator, and an interpreter spent a week in Lawrence exploring the learning programs available here and in nearby communities. At Rotary meetings, each person on the team described his or her work and gave a reaction to what the team was seeing in the United States.
- Oleksandr Elkin led the presentations to Rotary clubs, first showing a brief video about Ukraine, its landscape, cities, and industries. Oleksandr also highlighted his work as chairman of “EdCamp Ukraine,” an international movement dedicated to professional development for teachers. On the trip, Oleks sought to find ideas to improve teacher development and to observe technology innovations in teaching methods.
- Yaryna Datskiv works in a center that assesses educational quality for three regions of Ukraine. Her goal for the trip was to learn more about American secondary education standards and testing methodologies.
- Vladimir Bassis, a Ukrainian who now lives and works in Des Moines, served as interpreter during the visit.
- Oksana Puha teaches English at the post-secondary level. She came to learn about new developments in foreign language teaching.
- Asia Zaiets is the principal of a school in a small town. She supervises over seventy teachers and 700 students (grades 1-11) all housed in one building. Asia is interested in innovation and in management techniques that will help her teaching staff grow.
- Halyna Kaluzhna served as the facilitator for the group. Fluent in English, she also a teacher of English.
- Oksana Domaratska is an elementary teacher in a school situated in a village outside Lutsk. Although she did not speak any English, she readily communicated her love of children, passion for culture and travel, and fascination with nature.
- Jim Peters is president of Lawrence Central Rotary.
The three Lawrence Rotary clubs cooperated to plan and implement the itinerary that the group followed. Activities included visits to alternative education settings, various K-12 buildings, and the district office in the Lawrence school district. They met faculty and administrative staff at area universities, colleges, and junior colleges. The team met local officials on the school board and in city, county and state governments. They spent a morning in Topeka touring the Kansas Statehouse and the Brown vs. Board of Education Museum. In between, they forged friendships with Rotarians at multiple social events and weekly Rotary meetings.
The Open World Leadership Center program is an arm of the U.S. Congress. Its mission is to introduce young foreign leaders to the American democratic governing systems and free market operations at every level: federal, state, and local. According to Executive Director John M. O’Keefe, the program partners with service clubs such as Rotary to support Congressional interests to fulfill its mission to serve Members of Congress who desire to both better inform their own foreign policy formulation and inform other nations of U.S. values.
The weather was beautiful and around 100 riders and volunteers came out September 17th for the Lawrence Fall Community Bike Ride organized by Lawrence Central Rotary. “We had everyone from novices and kids on training wheels to local professional riders come out,” said Central Rotary Club President Jim Peters, “our club rallies around these events and it’s great to be able to provide a safe and encouraging event for bike riding.”
Event chair Steve Lane coordinated volunteers and organized the sponsors from all over Lawrence. “Steve’s organization and prep for this function like a Swiss watch,” said club member Tobin Neis, “we wouldn’t be able to do it without him.”
Lawrence / Douglas Country Community Health Planner Charlie Bryan was on hand showing attendees the proposed “Lawrence Loop” bike / multi-use path. LiveWell Lawrence and partners continue to advocate for finishing this 22-mile loop trail around Lawrence everyone could enjoy.
Exciting for both local Rotarians as well as attendees to see was an assembled ShelterBox which Lawrence Central Rotarians have heavily supported over the years. A ShelterBox is a simple and effective solution to deliver the essentials people need to survive and begin to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of a disaster.
ShelterBoxes are tailored for the particular disaster being responded to, but typically includes a disaster relief tent for a family, thermal blankets and groundsheets, water storage and purification equipment, solar lamps, cooking utensils, a basic tool kit, mosquito nets and children’s activity pack.
Thanks to all our sponsors and volunteers who made this happen!
Fellow Rotarian Curtis Marsh, Director of Information and the DeBruce Center at KU, told the remarkable story of how James Naismith’s original 1891 rules for the game of basketball came to reside on campus. Naismith invented the game to provide a rigorous indoor winter activity for the young athletes he worked with at a YMCA in Massachusetts. The thirteen typewritten rules became the “initiating document,” perhaps the only one in existence, for any sport. Naismith brought the game to KU where he worked with legendary coach Forest “Phog” Allen and the KU basketball tradition was born. The copy of the original rules passed into the possession of Naismith’s family. The family decided to auction off the rules through Sotheby’s Auction House, and an incredible bidding war transpired between KU grad David Booth and a wealthy Duke University grad. Booth won the auction with a 4.3 million dollar bid and presented them to KU. The DeBruce Foundation then provided the lead gift for the new building on campus that presently serves as a “shrine” for Naismith’s original rules.
The DeBruce Center construction finished last April; it is a beautiful 34,000 square foot structure that houses the rules and serves as a gathering place for people who love KU basketball and wish to view a unique piece of basketball history. The original rules are on display, in addition to displays honoring James Naismith and coach Phog Allen. When viewing the rules, an actual recording of James Naismith explaining the game may be heard. There is also a 332-pound sculpture of Naismith created by former KU Professor Elden Tefft. The DeBruce Center features the Courtside Café which seats 200 and there is also a space for catered events. Curtis Marsh told us the Center has the best food on campus and that student athletes take their meals at the center. He urged people to visit the center to appreciate how the KU basketball tradition is honored.
Miller pointed out that this election cycle in Kansas is really Governor Brownback’s “midterm”. Brownback is currently considered the most unpopular governor in the country, so it is likely that Democrats and moderate Republicans will gain seats in the legislature this fall in reaction to his policies. Despite these gains, Republicans will continue to control both the House and the Senate. Republican legislative leaders will struggle to bring together both the conservative and moderate wings of their party to get consensus to pass legislation. As a result, Miller does not expect that the volatile issues of the day, such as tax cuts or block grant structures, will be changed during the upcoming legislative session.
Nationally, Miller pointed out that Clinton is likely to win the presidency and projects that Democrats may regain control of the Senate. Although Republicans have good control of the maps that will allow them to control the House, they are divided among themselves. The conservatives will hold onto their seats there, while more moderate Representatives are more likely to lose to Democrats. As a result, divided government is likely for the foreseeable future.
The Republican Party is now more and more identified as the party of white Americans, according to recent surveys. Trump’s candidacy has attracted those voters with less education and lower incomes, despite the fact that that constituency has traditionally voted Democratic. College-educated, higher income voters, more likely to vote, are now leaning toward the Democratic ticket. While Trump has not caused these changes, he is the symptom of them, according to Miller.
In Kansas, Miller noted that Kevin Yoder and Lynn Jenkins, Republicans on the ballot for national office, are not only distancing themselves from Clinton, but also from Trump and Brownback, despite the fact that their voting records are very conservative.
Dr. Miller, a specialist in American politics, conducts research on political psychology, public opinion, electoral behavior, political communication, and survey and experimental methods. He did his undergraduate studies at the College of William & Mary and received his doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also certified in survey research methodology from UNC Howard W. Odum Institute for Research in Social Science.
Lawrence Utilities Engineer Melinda Harger Updates Lawrence Central On New Wakarusa Wastewater Treatment Project
Melinda Harger, Utilities Engineer for the City of Lawrence, reported on the progress of the 74.1 million dollar construction of the new Wakarusa Wastewater Treatment Project. The project, the largest ever undertaken by the City, was identified in the 2003 Utilities Master Plan to address the needs of a growing community. The plan was intended to mitigate wet weather surcharging of the 31st Street corridor, reduce wet weather overloading of the existing treatment plant, provide 20 percent growth capacity, and to address new environmental regulations. Elements of the plan include a new wastewater treatment plant, a new pump station, and improvements to the existing plant. An authorizing resolution passed in 2007, but the project was put on hold a few months later due to the nationwide economic downturn. The project was taken up again in 2012 and the RFP process and bidding soon followed. The extensive project required a team of contractors who are working closely with the Utilities Department of the City. The project site at 31st and Louisiana required considerable site preparation, including earthwork and access roads. The permit process was complicated, as some 60 were required, as much of the area is a wetland. The city worked closely with the Baker Wetlands, adding enhancements such as trail and parking lot construction as part of an easement agreement. The plant is expected to be up and running by March of 2018. The new Lawrence plant is projected to serve as a model for other communities for handling wastewater and meeting new regulations. For more information on the project contact Melinda Harger at City Hall.
The 2016 Lawrence Community Bike Ride on Saturday, September 17th, at the Haskell University stadium parking area and using the Burroughs Creek, and recently refinished bike Trail south of Haskell.
The event is open to anyone and there is no cost to participate.
There will be a three-mile ride along the Burroughs Creek Trail.
Other activities from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. include:
- A Training Wheel Takeoff. Experts will help children who are ready to take off their training wheels in a safe environment.
- Bike Rodeo. Kids can practice and improve their riding skills
- Bike Helmet Fitting and Giveaway. Safe Kids with LMH will help outfit kids with helmets, while supplies last, along with providing cycling safety tips for kids of all ages – and for adults too!
- Inflatable Bounce House and Slides for the kids!
“One of our goals as a club is to get more and more people discover cycling and an active lifestyle as a fun and healthy activity,” said Steve Lane, a member of Central Rotary Club. “This event is a great opportunity for families and individuals to enjoy cycling in a safe and scenic area on Lawrence’s east side.”
If it is raining September 17th, the ride will be rescheduled for on Sunday, September 18th, at 1PM.
Registration for the event is required and can be done before the event.
Releases will be available at the event or you can download one HERE to fill out ahead of time.
Thanks to all our sponsors and partners who help to make these events happen in Lawrence.
The Kansas River Keeper sounds like a mythical being but is actually a native Kansan who says she is the eyes, the ears and the voice of the river.
Dawn Buehler is the Kansas River Keeper and says her mission is to protect and preserve the Kansas (Kaw) River for future generations.
Buehler heads an organization of more than 100 volunteers who work to maintain the river quality on the longest prairie-based river system in the world. The Kansas River watershed covers 53,000 square miles and is part of the Missouri River watershed that includes parts of Colorado and Nebraska as well as Kansas.
From her office in DeSoto, she responds to pollution reports from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and uses the USGS site to check for safe water levels. Challenges to the river include storm water, land use changes, agriculture, population increases which increase demands on the river, and the need to protect the drinking water supply.The River Keeper volunteers work with groups and companies such as Westar Energy, Bowersock, and the Kansas Basin Regional Advisory Committee as well as listening to public input. They are supported entirely by grants, fund raising events and donations.
The River Keeper volunteers work with groups and companies such as Westar Energy, Bowersock, and the Kansas Basin Regional Advisory Committee as well as listening to public input. They are supported entirely by grants, fundraising events, and donations.
River Keeper events this fall include a September Lawrence to Eudora paddle and an October cleanup where the Kaw meets the Missouri.
For more information visit the Friends of the Kaw Website.
Progress on the Central District Development Project is increasingly visible at Kansas University. The $350 million project is transforming a 45-acre space that lies north and east of the Iowa and 19th Street into “Innovation Way.” Financing was completed and construction began in January 2016.
Jim Modig, University Architect and Director of Design and Construction Management (DCM) at KU, took care to describe the scope and history of the project in his presentation to the club. The project is the tangible result of KU’s Master Plan for 2014-2024. In particular, that plan recognized that existing spaces for science classes at KU were suffering from delayed maintenance and were too small, unsafe, and outdated to attract the best students.
The scope of the Central District Development work includes creating Jayhawk Trail that will tie the campus together end-to-end with accessible access for pedestrians and bicyclists. A new Integrated Sciences building is designed to encourage innovation and collaboration among students of various scientific disciplines. A new student union with flexible conference space, a parking garage for 600 cars, a new central utility plant, new apartments, and a new residence hall with dining facility are also part of the plan. The images of the residence hall in time lapse photographs reveal the speed of the work.
Companies from all over the world expressed interest in bidding on this project, Modig said, but after reviewing the qualifications of those companies, the project team asked for a Request for Proposal (RFP) from three firms. The RFPs addressed building of the science facilities, modernizing the campus infrastructure, providing student housing, and addressing ongoing operations and maintenance.
The Central District Development Project has been financed through a public/private partnership (P3), a non-profit entity that ensures that the State and the Board of Regents are not liable for the debt.
The economic impact of the Central District Development Project is significant, according to Modig. The project employs more than 8,500 people directly and indirectly. For every $1 spent, the project generates $2.47 in incremental economic value. Seventy-five percent of the subcontractors for the projects underway have been awarded to Kansas-based businesses; another 20% have gone to companies in the Kansas City area; only 5% have been given out-of-state.
Beth Llewellyn, executive director of Health Care Access, spoke to Lawrence Central Rotarians about the mission and the services of this “safety net” clinic for low-income and uninsured individuals living or working in Douglas County. Llewellyn grew up in Lawrence and returned to take charge of Health Care Access in June of 2015. Llewellyn has 25 years of experience in health care administration and has a strong personal conviction that good health care should available to everyone. The clinic operates on a sliding fee scale with 26 percent of the people served being unable to pay anything. Unfortunately, this number is increasing.
Clinic services include primary care, chronic disease management, counseling and psychotherapy, referral coordination, prescription assistance, resource navigation management, case management, wellness management, and on-site physical therapy. Some 59 percent of the people served are at or below the Federal Poverty Line. Many of them suffer from hypertension, diabetes, or mood/behavior disorders.
Health Care Access, located at 330 Maine Street, has a staff of fifteen and an operating budget of $950,000 and is governed by a private board of directors. The organization works with a number of health care related partners that make up a network of health care assistance and expertise. In addition to fees and donations, financial support comes from the State of Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the City of Lawrence, Douglas County, and the United Way.
What is the biggest challenge or need? Beth Llewellyn urged support of the expansion of Medicaid in Kansas. More information is available on Health Care Access at healthcareaccess.org.
The challenge to eXplore Lawrence, the non-profit entity now responsible for promoting and managing Lawrence tourism, is to understand the Lawrence brand and capitalize on it, according to Michael Davidson, Executive Director since April 1, 2016. The entity, funded by the city’s transient guest tax, anticipates a 2017 budget of $990,000. With the slogan “Unmistakably Lawrence,” the City is well on its way to enhance its reputation as a destination.
eXplore Lawrence is focused on encouraging visits not only for leisure activities, but also for conventions, meetings, and training events held by corporations. Currently, according to Davidson, 25,000 people in Lawrence work in tourism-related businesses—attractions, hotels, restaurants, and support services—generating an estimated $5 million in the local economy. For every $1 spent in tourism, $8 dollars gets churned into the economy. And Davidson also points out the fact that the industry provides numerous entry-level jobs for workers in the area.
Recently, eXplore Lawrence invested in a professional survey to identify ways to become even stronger and more effective in its efforts. In addition, the group is using social media in innovative ways, collecting pictures and videos from folks who have actually visited Lawrence and re-posting them on their website. They also use technology that alerts them when people who have explored the website actually come to visit the community.
Central Rotarians saw the fruits of their contribution to Lawrence’s Sister Cities organization when Elizabeth Grinage and Chehailis Jones spoke to the club on August 3. These two young women were the recipients of 2016 travel scholarships provided by the club.
Kelly Schultz, a nine-year member of the advisory board, explained that the Sister Cities program was devised during the Eisenhower administration in order to promote relationships among people and reduce the likelihood of conflict in the world—values certainly consistent with Rotary’s aims. Lawrence has three Sister Cities: Eutin, Germany; Hiratsuka, Japan; and Iniades, Greece. There is a Friends group in Lawrence for each city. Friendship gardens here symbolize the effort and care that it takes to generate the beauty of international relationships. The student travel program is a reciprocal one where Lawrence students spend time in homes in one of the Sister Cities and then host their new friends here in our community. Porter Arneill, the city staff liaison for Sister Cities, was also in attendance.
Elizabeth, a junior this fall at Free State High School, spent a month visiting Eutin, Germany, along with six other Lawrence students. Not only did Elizabeth stay in the home of a German family, she attended school, a real challenge since she has only been studying German for two years. The Eutin parks and gardens and the local castle impressed her in particular. In visits to other cities, she explored churches, a miniature museum, and an outdoor festival. The group spent five days in Berlin, visited a concentration camp, and mixed with the crowd of soccer enthusiasts during a public viewing of a game. She visited a seal rescue station on the North Sea and held a jellyfish in her hands at the Baltic Sea. Favorite new foods: “spaghetti ice” and “milk rice,” rice cooked in milk with sugar and served with strawberries. Elizabeth is looking forward to hosting her German friends for a month in Lawrence this fall.Chehailis, an
Chehailis, an eighth-grader at Southwest Middle School, spent ten “amazing” days in Hiratsuka, Japan. Her group visited an aquarium, a Shinto temple, and an amusement park situated on the sixtieth floor of a building. She told about the crowds, music, and festival lanterns. What was most different? Well, they walked everywhere! And ate lots of fish. And had vegetables for breakfast. When her Japanese guests came to Lawrence last month, Chehailis took them to Pet World, to meet her friends, to play at Worlds of Fun, and to see the Basketball Hall of Fame at KU. They also sampled fry bread and saw bison at the Potawatomi Nation.
Douglass Country Community Foundation Program and Communications Officer Marilyn Hull and Douglas Country Community Health Department Community Health Planner (and Lawrence Central Rotary Member) Charlie Bryan came to present the findings of the Lawrence Pedestrian Bicycle Issues Task Force Report released earlier this year.
The Task Force’s mission is “use community input and research to recommend ways to create a healthier, safer, greener, more prosperous Lawrence by making it easier for residents and visitors of all ages, abilities, and incomes to walk, ride a bike, or use a wheelchair or other mobility device for everyday transportation and recreation.”
The big takeaway from the report is that virtually every Lawrence citizen walks, wheels or rides a bike in the course of a week. From the report:
It may be as simple as walking or wheeling from a car or bus stop to a grocery store or doctor’s office. It may be riding a bike to school, or walking to work, or wheeling to a downtown event. Everybody needs safe ways to move around the community.
Because the need is universal, the City of Lawrence Pedestrian-Bicycle Issues Task Force has taken an inclusive approach to studying our walking, wheeling and bike-riding environment. Our findings and recommendations are geared toward providing additional safety and comfort for all ages and abilities.
They also pointed out that Lawrence has 72 linear miles of streets with no sidewalks. The report asserts that Lawrence’s sidewalk maintenance policy is ineffective, resulting in a deteriorating pedestrian network. Many sidewalks don’t provide adequate access for people with disabilities or seniors with mobility limitations.
They also showed members a recommended map of upgrades and additions to the local bike and multi-use path network that would ultimately complete the loop around Lawrence.
If you are interested in more information please visit the Pedestrian-Bicycle Issues Task Force at https://www.lawrenceks.org/ped-bike
Mitzi McFatrich executive director of Kansas Advocates for Better Care (KABC) says she has “the best job in the world” even though the word she uses the most in describing it is “challenging.”McFatrich who is a United Methodist minister, started working with the group when it was Kansas Improvement for Nursing Homes. Founded in Lawrence by a concerned citizens group headed by Petey Cerf and Harriet Nehring, as a statewide organization of volunteers, there are 650 members across Kansas. The group advocates with the legislature for law changes that benefit older people, works on upgrades in possibilities and hosts workshops.
McFatrich who is a United Methodist minister, started working with the group when it was Kansas Improvement for Nursing Homes. Founded in Lawrence by a concerned citizens group headed by Petey Cerf and Harriet Nehring, as a statewide organization of volunteers, there are 650 members across Kansas. The group advocates with the legislature for law changes that benefit older people, works on upgrades in possibilities and hosts workshops.
“There are always new challenges,” she said, using her favorite word. “We train law enforcement, social workers , bankers to identify, intervene and prevent elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.
“Another challenge,” McFatrich said “is helping people pick long term care. Older adults want to age in place at home. Nobody wants to talk about nursing homes or go to one. We work to maintain people’s sense of self and their dignity. We help people through life’s transitions.”
A priority of KABC is also to monitor medical care for older adults. They maintain a database on facilities in Kansas to see what medical care is available at which nursing homes, to help people avoid medical interactions that cause problems, and to record comments and opinions about elder care . They serve as ombudsmen for older citizens.
“And when I see some of the results, McFatrich said, “this really is the best job in the world!”
Judy Wright isn’t sure where this quotation came from, but she and others involved with the “Re-Invent Lawrence” initiative use is as their by-word. Judy, a board member of Douglas County Senior Services, spoke about the local effort to attract retirees to Lawrence and asked club members to serve as ambassadors of the message.
About three and a half years ago, the City of Lawrence and Douglas County established a task force to study what attracts retirees to Lawrence. The hope was that by understanding the motivations of those who have come here to retire, others might be encouraged to follow. DCSS was asked to lead this economic development initiative aimed at three market groups: (1) Baby Boomers—to invite them to move back to the city where they attended a college or university; (2) adult children who live here—to ask them to encourage their parents to retire in Lawrence; and (3) local pre-retirees—to entice them to stay in the community.
The idea of retirement life in Lawrence is easy to sell. The community has a lifestyle rich with art, theater, music, sports, and life-long learning opportunities. Mass Street shopping, bike-friendly streets, parks and recreation options, libraries, and museums, and award-winning medical services are among the list of activities and amenities available here. The City’s proximity to Kansas City and its international airport is also a decided advantage.
Although it is difficult to track results of the DCSS efforts so far, Judy and Kay have been giving presentations in the community for about 14 months. The DCSS office has received inquiries from potential residents during those months. The organization has a distinguished list of sponsors and a robust website “Live Lawrence Life” They are placing ads in the KU Magazine and other alumni communications.