Have you ever noticed how the planters at the intersections of Mass Street always look so nice?  A team of volunteers descended upon Mass Street Saturday, May 10th, for a great purpose,  the yearly cleaning and planting of flowers along Lawrence’s Massachusetts Street.

The Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department provides the flowers and local residents and service groups come together to make the city a more beautiful place.

Glenn Davis  Glen Davis  Hause / Brenner

Sally Zogry

Sally Zogry – Executive Director – Downtown Lawrence, Inc. (image credit: Melissa Sigler Photography)

Downtown Lawrence Inc. Director Sally Zogry talks fast, moves fast and keeps up with approximately 150 members of the Downtown Lawrence Inc. (DLI)  Association, facilitating a list of activities that would leave most people dizzy. Wrapping up her first year as the new Executive Director of DLI Zogry spoke to Central Rotary on May 14 about her job. “It’s the best job ever,” she said “and we’ve had a great year.”

Members of  DLI include retail businesses, food and beverage establishments, entertainment venues and places which provide services to name a few. Zogry uses social media such as facebook and twitter, the DLI website, and good old-fashioned face to face personal contact to keep track of what’s going on and promote events and spread news.

She coordinates events and activities for visiting groups with the CVB and serves as a point of contact and a voice for city- county related matters. She works on downtown beautification and maintenance in collaboration with the city.  She coordinates  police, fire and medical services for downtown events and store security.

Fund raisers such as the Third Annual Girls’ Night Downtown which is a benefit for the Willow Domestic Violence Center are part of her job. Free events such as dinner and a movie in conjunction with the Lawrence library and the summer concert series with the Parks and Rec Commission are on her list as are the annual Downtown Sidewalk Sale, the Busker Fest and the holiday lighting ceremony where Santa Claus is rescued from the roof of Weaver’s Department Store.

Downtown Lawrence IncDowntown Lawrence also helps recruit new businesses, most recently Ten Thousand Villages. “We’re working on a downtown grocery store now,” she said.

Zogny works with a seven-member board elected from DLI members . “They are a great help,” she said but many in her audience probably wondered if even seven of them can keep up with her.

For more information about Downtown Lawrence Inc check out their website at http://www.downtownlawrence.com

Dianne Ensminger Diane Ensminger explained to the Lawrence Central Rotary Club that she created Allie’s Village Memory Care Homes, LLC, in honor of her mother Allie, a victim of Alzheimer’s disease.  As CEO and owner of Allie’s Village, Diane is committed to providing comfort to the persons living with Alzheimer’s & dementia and their families.  The facility promises customized care for those living with the disease.  Diane declares, “You do not need to walk alone or be afraid, we are here to help you.”

Alzheimer’s and dementia are potential issues for many as the population ages.  Statistics predict that one in eight people over age 65 will have Alzheimer’s disease.  The Huffington Post blog gave a dire prediction on April 9, 2014:

Our country is in the middle of an Alzheimer’s crisis that has already been devastating to millions among the “greatest generation,” is well on its way toward doing the same directly to the “boomers,” and has already immersed their progeny in caregiving. Right now there are more than 5 million Americans who have this progressive, degenerative and fatal disease.

Allie’s Village opened just over a year ago in spring 2013.  Its eight bedrooms and five day-care openings are full, and there are five people on the waiting list.  The residence takes pride in its ratio of one caregiver for two every residents, ensuring that residents have an opportunity for constant interaction and activities that match their interests.  The family-centered philosophy at Allie’s Village ensures its happy, loving environment and its partnership with the loved ones of its residents.

Bob Nugent

Bob Nugent, Administrator of Lawrence Transit, assured members of Lawrence Central Rotary that getting on any bus in town, no matter what the shape or the marking, can get riders where they want to go—six days a week, 307 days a year.

The City of Lawrence and the University of Kansas began coordinating their bus systems in 2009 through a memo of understanding.  Their cooperation means that riders in Lawrence pay a universal fare, no matter which bus they take.   Communication about routes, schedules, policy and procedures are found on a common website.  The two entities share vehicles and have a joint maintenance facility as well.  The cooperation between KU and the City allows the system to flex for high volume routes near campus and lower intensity routes in the perimeter of Lawrence.  There are nine routes that use 51 vehicles during peak times.

The City of Lawrence contributes $2.3 million annually, income from a 2.5% sales tax to support the buses and related transportation services.  Those dollars are supplemented by around $2 million in Federal money and $290,000 in state funds.  KU contributes $3.3 million collected from student fees and $1.5 million gleaned from parking revenue on campus. These coordinated services have 2.9 million passengers annually and have been recognized with awards for Ridership, Sustainability and System of the Year, since 2008.

A bus is a bus is a busMembers of Rotary testified to the high quality of customer service from bus drivers in Lawrence.  The City offers door-to-door service on “the T” by appointment, especially helpful to riders with physical limitations.  Riders may also call in advance for flex service and for rides between 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.  KU service includes Safe Bus and Safe Ride for students who call to request pickup outside of normal bussing hours.

Willow Domestic Violence CenterFor the second year now the members of Lawrence Central have resolved to adopt the Willow Domestic Violence Center.

For those of you who may not be aware The Willow Domestic Violence Center works toward peace in the world by elimination of violence in our communities.  They are dedicated to the empowerment of survivors of domestic violence; the creation of a peaceful, safe space; the promotion of equality and respect for all people; the appreciation of differences, and the social action necessary to achieve these goals.

The Willow fields upwards of 1600 crisis calls and referral calls per year, houses 250-300 women and children annually, runs adults and child support groups, and offers services and public education in the Kansas counties of Douglas, Franklin, and Jefferson.  For more information about Willow check out their website at http://www.willowdvcenter.org

So how is Lawrence Central helping? At our weekly meetings we will be collecting items (or gift cards/cash donations) that can be used by clients of Willow.  In planning with them for this year their current needs are:

  • Day planners / journals
  • Shower loofas
  • Icy Hot / Bengay
  • Gas X / Turns
  • Deodorant
  • Finger nail polish remover
  • Children’s shampoo /conditioner / body wash
  • Children’s toothpaste and toothbrushes
  • Children’s hair detangler
  • Diapers – size 5 and 6
  • Gas gift cards

During the month of May we welcome you to drop of items any of our meetings on Wednesday’s at noon in the Eldridge’s All American Room and if you have time stay for lunch and learn about what Lawrence Central Rotary does for Lawrence and beyond!


Meeting Information:
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Eldridge Hotel
All American Room
701 Massachusetts
Lawrence, KS 66044

Wednesday's at Noon

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