Lawrence Central Rotary | Lawrence, KS

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New Lawrence City Manager Tom Markus Visits Lawrence Central

Tom-MarkusNew Lawrence City Manager Tom Markus began his talk to Lawrence Central Rotary on June 17 by detailing his experience in the job. Beginning his career in 1973, he weathered 11 years in Cook County, Illinois, several years in Minnesota and, most recently, the top city job in Iowa City, Iowa.

“In Cook County, I learned how to keep a moral compass; in Minnesota, I was working in a state governed at that time by wrestler Jesse “the body” Ventura; in Iowa, I learned about life in a university town,” he said.  “All these experiences have shaped me, made me more patient and calm.”

But he knows he’s going to need all his experience and patience and a calm attitude in his new job. Markus said when he came to Lawrence he had an ambitious 100-day plan. “But I didn’t realize how complex Lawrence is.”

Now he is working to balance expenses and revenues in light of  the city’s potential for a $1.3 million deficit in 2017. He said some of the options are to raise revenue or cut expenses, but his preference is a middle ground of mixing and matching from both options.

“It’s close to the bone on decisions here,” he told Central Rotarians.  “The city has to provide core services such as police, education.  That’s essential.

“Federal and state government have shed their support for certain services which means we are going to have to handle them locally. Although,” he said “that’s not bad because the distance from services support can be too long. When it’s local, common sense can come into play.” He believes the new city commission has a good impact on budget planning.

“What I’m trying to do is figure how to settle the controversy, avoid polarization, and get to the middle,” he said.

Lawrence Humane Society’s Megan Scheibe Visits Lawrence Central

Megan Scheibe | Lawrence Humane Society | Lawrence Central RotaryMegan Scheibe of the Lawrence Humane Society said she always has loved animals and proves her point by currently being the adoptive “mother” of four pets.

Speaking at Lawrence Central Rotary on June 8, she said the Humane Society nurtures the human-animal bond by providing shelter, care and advocacy for abused and homeless pets.  In 2015 the Lawrence Shelter took in 3,571 pets including 2,186 strays and 851 that were surrendered by their owners. Dogs made up 1,611 of the received animals, cats were 1,883 and there were 74 others.

When an animal comes into the shelter there is an intake exam . Workers get as much information as possible and give the animal a medical check.  They prepare a behavior evaluation making sure the animals are happy, healthy (mainly  in the case of dogs) and what their personalities are like—if they are high energy or would be better off with an older family. They also see if surgery would be necessary.

“The place for a pet is in a home, not a shelter,” Scheibe said “and we work hard to place them.”  The number of adoptions is on the increase with over 2,000  in 2015. “We don’t keep them any longer than necessary,” she said.  The holding period for strays is three days minimum and for surrenders there is no hold. Others are handled case by case.  The average length of a stay is 27 days, with dogs averaging a 15-day stay.

The shelter staff also does cruelty investigations, 24 hour injured or ill pickup, community outreach education and low-cost micro-chipping.

“We can always use help,” she said. “We train volunteers, have a fostering program, encourage adoptions and are always very happy to accept donations.”

Melissa Fisher Isaacs Compares Lawrence Public Library to “Rotary’s Four Way Test”

Melissa Fisher Issacs | Lawrence Public Library | Lawrence Central Rotary | Four Way TestMelissa Fisher Isaacs, the information sources coordinator for the Lawrence Public Library, took the Rotary Four-Way test as her model and related it to  aspects of the library when she spoke to Lawrence Central Rotary on June 1.

“Is it the Truth?” Isaacs quoted the statement: “Google will get you 100,000 answers; a librarian will get you the right one.”

“Librarians help you get true, reliable information,” she said. “This year the Lawrence Public Library has answered 70,000 questions so far. Library information is vetted and reliable.”

“Is it Fair to all concerned?” 

Isaacs said the internet is necessary to daily life anymore and 88 percent of people in  Lawrence have it but there is a digital divide—and there are those who don’t have it.  So the public library offers help in using the computer and offers internet resources. Currently, they are sponsoring coding workshops for elementary school teachers, a filmmaking series and thousands of  book titles.

“Will it build Goodwill and better friendships?”

Joining a group builds goodwill and friendships. Isaac repeated the quote that joining a group “boosts your life expectancy as much as quitting smoking.”

The Lawrence Public Library offers book clubs, book talks, free meeting rooms, a sound & vision studio and several programs including one on genealogy.

And, finally, “Is it Beneficial to all concerned?”

The Lawrence Public Library is open to everyone and, currently, in the town of 90,000, there are 75,000 people in Lawrence who have a library card.  The library offers free yoga classes,  and programs that promote public health. It sponsors walks, free summer lunches for children and inexpensive lunches for adults.

Isaacs closed by saying the library staff is doing a community needs assessment to see in how many other  ways they can best serve the community.

A link to a PDF of Melissa’s complete comments is available here – it’s an interesting read!

Hosub Shim Discusses South Korea: An Important Ally in a Dangerous Neighborhood

Hosub Shim | Korea Today | Lawrence Central RotaryRepublic of Korea Army Captain Hosub Shim spoke on the history and security challenges of modern South Korea.  Captain Shim is a graduate and former teacher at Korea’s national military academy.  He also took an MA degree from Waseda University in Tokyo and is presently working on a Ph.D. in history at the University of Kansas.  Historically Korea has been invaded and occupied many times by powerful neighbors, including China and Japan.  However, Korean culture has survived and in South Korea, the people have prospered and built a powerhouse economy.The partition of Korea in 1945 was a defining moment in the history of the country.  The ensuing war between North and South devastated the peninsula.  The Korean War was also a Cold War

The partition of Korea in 1945 was a defining moment in the history of the country.  The ensuing war between North and South devastated the peninsula.  The Korean War was also a Cold War showdown with China and the United States engaged in combat in support of their respective allies.  Open combat ended after bitter fighting only to be replaced by a contentious ceasefire that is still in place.  North Korea continued to exist as a closed society with a one-party system dominated by the military and a ruling family.  Most of the people of the north live in poverty and suffer periodic famine and other material shortages.  In contrast the South is a democracy and boasts one of the strongest economies in the world.  Captain Shim illustrated the contrast by sharing a nighttime satellite photograph of the peninsula that shows the South full of points of light and the North almost totally dark.Captain Shim believes the biggest threat to the region is the present unstable regime in the North and their continuing development of nuclear capability.  The North continues to make threats and initiate provocative incidents.  South Koreans welcome the presence of U.S. military forces as a deterrent but the nuclear threat makes the status quo untenable.  Captain Shim belies it is essential for the United States to make a diplomatic neutralization of the North’s nuclear capability the highest priority.  Despite all obstacles South Koreans long for a reunification of the country some day.

Captain Shim believes the biggest threat to the region is the present unstable regime in the North and their continuing development of nuclear capability.  The North continues to make threats and initiate provocative incidents.  South Koreans welcome the presence of U.S. military forces as a deterrent but the nuclear threat makes the status quo untenable.  Captain Shim believes it is essential for the United States to make a diplomatic neutralization of the North’s nuclear capability the highest priority.  Despite all obstacles South Koreans long for a reunification of the country some day.

Dana Lattin on Rebuilding the Ryan Gray Playground for All

Ryan Grey PlaygroundRyan Gray was born in Lawrence in 1973 with an inoperable brain tumor, which limited him physically but not intellectually.  Noticed by KU basketball coach, Larry Brown, Ryan became an official ball boy for the KU team and its unofficial  number one fan and good luck charm, especially during the winning 1988 season.

Ryan died in 1990, and in 1993 a playground, named for him, was created  at Hilltop School, which was accessible to children with mobility disabilities, the first such in Kansas.

Now the  playground needs to be rejuvenated and a steering committee has been formed to purchase new equipment, increase accessibility even more and enhance options for exercise and health.

Dana Lattin, one of the steering committee chairs, told Central Rotarians on May 11 that the committee’s goal is to raise $260,000. The Lawrence school district will contribute part of the money and fund-raising efforts are under-way for the rest.

Dana Lattin, one of the steering committee chairs, told Central Rotarians on May 11 that the committee’s goal is to raise $260,000. The Lawrence school district will contribute part of the money and fund-raising efforts are under-way for the rest.

Changes to the playground will include a circular design and engaging play structures so children can play together. Signs and panels will include directions in Braille.  Currently, the pavement is buckling after years of use and needs to be replaced.

“We want to provide an opportunity for all youth and families to use the playground,” Lattin said.  “We want to re-engage the Lawrence/Douglas county community and increase playground usage,” she said.

For more information, or to contribute contact:  Dana Lattin, or Janel Leitch at

Record-breaking Bicycle Rider Ashton Lambie Tells His Tale

Ashton LambieThe old record time for the more-than-400-mile trip across Kansas on a bicycle was 29 hours and 52 minutes, set by Tim Parks of McPherson in July 1993.

Ashton Lambie’s wanted to complete the same journey in 24 hours or less.  “Technology has come a long way since the early 90’s and I was confident with newer bikes and aerodynamics I could do it, ” Lambie told Lawrence Central Rotary.

If you’ve attended any of Lawrence Central’s Community Bike Ride’s you’ve probably seen Ashton in the Sunflower bike tent tuning-up or fixing bikes that attendees bring to the event.

Ashton is also an avid distance rider who’s ridden in events all across the area and beyond.

The ride was sanctioned by the Ultra-Marathon Cycling Association after a barrage of paperwork was completed and he was able to coax and get a friend and co-worker approved as a race-officia and Lambie’s crew — made up of his wife and parents — drove behind him for the entire route.

Lambie rolled over the Kansas-Missouri border 23 hours and 53 minutes later, breaking the old record by nearly six hours and beating his personal goal by several minutes.

For more information about Ashton’s ride there’s a great article in the Lawrence Journal World you can read.

Lawrence Central Rotary Helps The Willow in May

Once again this May, Lawrence Central Rotary is collecting personal care products to deliver to The Willow Domestic Violence Center.  Becca Burns, Director of Volunteer Services at The Willow speaks regularly to the club.  The agency provides a growing variety of services to survivors of domestic abuse and human trafficking who live in Douglas, Franklin, or Jefferson County.  Find a list of items on their wish list at their website.

Every week we will have a bin where items can be placed into it that will be delivered to The Willow – they will also gladly accept monetary donations too!  In a note from Executive Director Joan Schultz their current needs are:

  1. Multi-vitamins (for children and adults)
  2. Bug spray
  3. Sunscreen
  4. Kid’s allergy I cold medicine (Triaminic, Zarbee’s)
  5. Kid’s pain relief I fever reducer
  6. Hairbrushes
  7. Laundry soap
  8. Face wash and moisturizer.

Lawrence Central Rotary Helps The Willow in 2016

Shon Qualseth, Bob Swan, & Sam Bhatka Named Paul Harris Fellows

Shon Qualseth | Bob Swan | Sam BhaktaLawrence Central Rotary has named Bob Swan, Shon Qualseth as Paul Harris Fellows in recognition of their service as president in prior years.  Bob joined LCR in February 2009.  His year as president was 2012-2013.  Shon joined the club in December 2007 and served as president from 2011-2012.

Lawrence Central Rotary has also named Sam Bhakta a Paul Harris Fellow in recognition of his four years as Treasurer of the club.  Sam joined LCR in November 2009.  Up until last summer, Sam was owner and manager of the Econolodge in Lawrence.  Since selling that business, Sam has been exploring new business ventures in the region.

Warm congratulations and a hearty thank you to each!

Downtown Lawrence’s Sally Zogry Update’s Lawrence Central

Sally Zogry | Downtown Lawrence Incorporated | Lawrence Central RotarySally Zogry’s motto is “Shop Small, Shop Local.” Zogry, the director of  Downtown Lawrence, has been on the job for three years. She’s watched activity in downtown Lawrence grow and is working to keep the downtown vital and busy.

“I plan an event that I’d like to attend—sometimes bringing the kids,” she said.

New activities in downtown have included the gift card program, collaborative partnerships with downtown businesses  which has been very successful. Discount gift cards ranging from $10 to $500 are accepted at 100 downtown businesses. “Annually we’ve sold $150,000 worth,” she said. “It keeps money downtown and is a closed loop program with only participating businesses. “

The Winter Parade, the first weekend in December has always been a popular event, but parade goers didn’t stay downtown after the parade, so it has been repackaged into a “Winter Weekend” with caroling, holiday shows and shopping and dinner packages.

Final Fridays have been rejuvenated with a goal toward including more businesses and encouraging more coordinated public relations and marketing by those participating, with an emphasis on restaurants.

The popular  Farmers Market, now in its 40th year, in the 800 block of New Hampshire on Saturdays, will be moving a Tuesday market to the Lawrence Library Lawn Plaza to facilitate parking.

Events scheduled for 2016 include  the Busker Fest in late May, the Dinners and Movies on the Library Lawn each month in the summer, and the fourth of July fireworks.

Zogry talked about six new businesses starting in town ,four restaurants, a boutique and a furniture store, and said she  is looking forward to a lofts and apartments building on New Hampshire and, possibly, a downtown grocery store.

Lawrence Central Welcomes New Member Taryn Parillo

Taryn Parillo | Lawrence Central RotaryTaryn Parillo was inducted into Lawrence Central Rotary on April 6.  Taryn is a Financial Services Representative for Foresters Financial Services, Inc. out of Overland Park, KS.  In her application, Taryn says, “I welcome opportunities to volunteer my time and make a difference.  I have worked with a number of projects and have recently aided KaBoom! in building a playground, have cooked for families staying a RMH [Ronald McDonald House], and have ‘Built a Bear’ for residents of a children’s shelter.”

Nancy Hause Talks about Explorer Zebulon Pike, and a Local Connection

Nancy HauseAt  the April 20th Lawrence Central Rotary meeting, Rotarian Nancy  Pike Hause  talked about finding out that she and Rotarian John Wilkinson share a historic connection.  Hause  told Rotarians that she was contacted by the publisher of Colorado Life magazine last year to write a story about her relative, explorer Zebulon Pike, and then found out that her friend, Wilkinson, belonged to the family of General James Wilkinson, Pike’s mentor.

In 1803 Thomas Jefferson appointed General Wilkinson governor of the newly acquired Louisiana territory, not knowing that Wilkinson and Vice-president Aaron Burr were making plans to turn the huge new area into a separate nation, with Burr in charge.  But first they needed someone to explore the 828,000 square miles to map the terrain and learn about the Spanish influence there. They chose young Lieutenant Pike,  the son of a friend of Wilkinson’s.

Zebulon Pike Article Art

To read the article that Nancy wrote click on the image above.

The expedition was full of mishaps and missteps, including the groups’ capture by Spanish forces, but  Pike was able to report on what he had seen including the “Grand Mountain,” eventually named Pike’s Peak by western pioneers.

When Pike returned from Spanish captivity, he found Burr on trial for treason with Wilkinson testifying against him.  No one knew whether or not Pike had been part of the conspiracy to create a new nation and if his part was to be a spy or if he was just acting as a good soldier and true explorer.

Burr was acquitted but disgraced and went to live in England. Wilkinson stayed in the military, eventually becoming envoy to Mexico, where he died in Mexico City,  having been found to be a double agent, working for Spain.

Pike also stayed in the military, becoming a general. Only 34, he was killed in battle in Canada in the war of 1812, with no one ever knowing  whether or not he was part of Burr and Wilkinson’s plot.

John Wilkinson also told club members more about General Wilkinson, and Hause shared issues of Colorado Life with the story. The program ended, rather unconventionally, with Hause and Wilkinson having a hug.

Lawrence Director of Arts and Culture Porter Arneil Discusses Local Art

Porter Arneil | Lawrence Central RotaryPorter Arneil,  City of Lawrence Director of Arts and Culture, says he is an accidental arts administrator.  A sculptor with an MFA degree, the told Central Rotarians, he got into arts administration because he believes the arts are an essential part of humanity, from the cave paintings of 15000 B.C. to the crop art of Kansan Stan Herd today.

Art is a biological thing, he said, not just an outside thing but a part of the human condition. Although he believes art education is not generally favored in the United States today and it’s hard for those in the field to bring art back into the public consciousness, he believes it is happening.

“Art, craft, design, are part of our lives,” Arneil said. “We take for granted how much of this we have. Because of computers we have even more need for innovative thinkers. Left brain dominance is decreasing and right brain emphasis is   increasing.

“Our economy has evolved from agrarian to industrial to service to digital/creative and cities are beginning to integrate the arts into curriculums.”

He gives Lawrence high marks. “Lawrence has great arts education,” he said.  “With the Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission, the Phoenix Award, outdoor sculptures, city -community arts grants, public art, final Fridays and the East Ninth street plan to name a few.”

He is working with the task force created to define cultural assets of the city, making recommendations.  “There’s a city-wide plan for Lawrence with 21 different topics surveyed.  There’s a real awareness of how important this is,” he said.

Answering questions about the East Ninth street project he said it is a struggle for some and has a way to go, but seems to be moving favorably so far.

“There’s a nationwide effort to find out the economic impact of the arts and we’re working on finding what the economic benefits are for Lawrence.”

Southwest Middle School 2016 Future Cities Team Visits Lawrence Central

Lawrence Southwest Middle School 2016 Future City Competition TeamStudents from Lawrence’s Southwest Middle School presented their award winning city design and described the work required to participate in the National Engineer’s Week Future City Competition.  The eighteen 8th graders took first place in the Great Plains Regional competition in January, earning the right to compete in the national event in Washington DC, in February.  The students were required to develop a design for a city at least 150 years in the future.  The design was to address current and future city problems using technology, science, and engineering solutions. A special focus of the design was to solve the city’s waste management system.  The students chose to re-imagine the city of Mumbai in the year 2170.  At approximately 75 million residents, the city would be transformed into a walkable, thriving commercial hub attracting millions of worldwide citizens.

Southwest-MS-Futute-City-2016The competition included requirements for a seven-minute verbal presentation, a three-dimensional model with moving parts, a virtual city created with SimCity software, a project plan, and a city essay. Developing skills such as teamwork, fundraising, planning, and communications to mention a few, this group of teens is ready to take on real world challenges. Outstanding teachers, mentors, and advisors assisted along the way, and many local businesses supported the team in their fundraising efforts to defray the cost of traveling to DC.  The team was honored to take home special recognition for Best Use of Renewable Energy, and enjoyed four days in the nation’s capitol.

Learn more about the project here.

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