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Getting a Positive Bright Start

Every child in Douglas County deserves the oportunity to attain their fullest potential, according to Lawrence Central Rotary member Emily Hilding. Hilding is the Development Director for Positive Bright Start (PBS), a non profit organization dedicated to providing specialized early childhood services for children under six and their families. PBS was started in 1972 to address the needs of day care aged children who were not getting services.

Through the years PBS has grown and presently operates five early childhood classrooms and provides therapy services, financial aid and a food program. PBS collaborates with a number of schools and agencies providing services for preschoolers and their families. Hilding has a background of working in early childhood programs, and has served as a coach for teachers and students, utilizing the Positive Behavior Support Model. This model helps children and adults recognize behaviors and provides cues and alternatives to problem behaviors. Positive Bright Start has a staff of twenty-two and is funded by grants and other fundraising efforts.

Sarah Bell Highlights the Kansas Museum of History

Sarah Bell spoke about the Kansas Museum of History where she has just taken the position of Director of Education and Museum.  Although the museum is currently closed for a major renovation, she encourages everyone to plan a visit once the changes are complete in 2024.  

Sarah showed images of the displays in the museum prior to the current renovation.  The museum displays sought to provide information in chronological order.  The focus was on key artifacts and used interactive elements intended to stimulate conversations about what is historically significant.  The John Brown exhibit, for example, asked questions about whether Brown was a hero or a terrorist.  A teepee and a grass lodge show the way that Native Americans lived.  A locomotive positioned in the center of the museum underlines the key roll that the railroad played in Kansas history.   William Allen White’s printing press was  

These artifacts and many others will continue to be on display, but the new arrangement will emphasize themes over time rather than chronology.

As the public awaits the re-opening of the museum, they can visit the many other historical sites maintained by the Kansas State Historical Society and enjoy “Museum After Hours” presentations at 6:30 p.m. on the second Friday of each month.

Representing the County

Patrick Kelly loves Lawrence and Douglas County and serves as the Douglas County Commissioner representing the first District. Kelly is a University of Kansas graduate and earned a BA in Music Education and a Masters in Educational Leadership. He has been teaching in the Lawrence Public Schools since 1999. Kelly described the role and responsibilities of County Government including collecting taxes, public safety, District Court, planning and zoning, maintaining the system of county roads and more.

Kelly noted that all three Commissioners reside in the City of Lawrence, which has not happened before. Recently there has been discussion of increasing the number of Commissioners from three to five. He also discussed the possible extension of Wakarusa Avenue, the impact of the new Panasonic Plant in De Soto, and the new Treatment and Recovery Center. He also expressed the importance of collaboration among local governments and other entities.

Kelly is a member of numerous boards and he and his family are very active in the local arts community.

Using the Arts to Bring People Together

Anthea Scouffas is passionate about connecting people to the arts and to each other. She works every day to do just that as the Engagement and Education Director at the Lied Center of Kansas. She studied History and Education at Eastern Illinois University and worked at the University of Illinois, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts before coming to Lawrence. Scouffas is also responsible for grant writing and oversight of grants which lead her to a unique creative collaboration on North, the musical.

The idea for the musical came from Ashli St. Armant a Los Angeles vocalist, writer and arts educator. St. Armant has performed for young audiences all over the country. She grew up in New Orleans and she has been greatly influenced by the music and history of that great city. North is the story of a mother and son who escape slavery in Louisiana and undertake a perilous journey north which includes a stop on the Underground Railroad in Lawrence. Scouffas worked closely with St. Armant to develop the musical and a teachers guide for North. The world premier of North will be at the Lied Center on October 26 at 7:00 p.m. There will also be special performances for fourth and fifth grades. North pays tribute to an important piece of history and celebrates the music of New Orleans.

Scott Wagner Champions Lawrence Regional Airport

Central Rotarian Scott Wagner assumed the role of manager of the Lawrence Regional Airport last fall in addition to his duties as a Management Analyst for the City. He clearly is an excellent cheerleader for the airport, able to tout statistics about operations and about the economic impact of the airport, well as describe the many aviation-related events that have taken place recently.

The airport sits on 492 acres north of Lawrence. Although it does not provide any commercial service, it is a base for charter services and repairs of charter planes. Hetrick Air Services and Eurotec are there, and LifeStar air ambulance keeps staff and a helicopter on site.

The airport was established in 1929, and its terminal was built in the 1980s. FAA grant money will soon allow improvements to the terminal and the parking area.

Scott reports that there have been a variety of tours and open houses at the airport during the past year, an Aviation Youth Camp sponsored by Parks and Rec, and fly-in events such as the Air Race Classic and the Kansas Air Tour. “Unite and Take Flight” offered airplane and helicopter rides as a fundraiser for United Way of Douglas County, bringing many residents to the airport for the first time.

Scott poses with his wife and fellow Central Rotarians in front of a Eurotec helicopter at the United Way event.
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