Lawrence Central Rotary | Lawrence, KS

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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.

Local Architect Stan Hernley Restores and Re-purposes Local Historic Building

Stan Hernly | Lawrence Central RotaryArchitect Stan Hernley shared a bit of Lawrence history and the story of the restoration of a complex of structures left to ruin at 1106 Rhode Island.  Rhody Delahunty , an Irish immigrant, acquired two  city lots in 1871 and established a transfer and storage business on the site  that operated well into the 1930’s.  Delahunty built a residence, a barn and eventually a truck shed on the property, which the family occupied until 1964.  The location was later used as an auto salvage business for a few years.  The structures fell into disrepair and the city condemned the site in 2013 with the goal of finding someone to restore the site.

1106 Rhode Island Lawrence Ks

1106 Rhode Island Before / After Photo Credit: Journal-World Photos.

Six partners, including Hernley, formed an LLC and a plan was developed for acquiring and restoring the property.  The LLC paid the city $90,000 in 2014 for the property and has invested an additional $800,000 on the project.  A development grant and a tax rebate were part of the agreement with the city and work had to be approved by the Historical Society Review Board.  The restoration was challenging as new foundations were required and there was a considerable amount of wood rot to deal with.  Unique features were saved and some repurposed as the structures were provided with modern wiring, plumbing and heating and air systems.  The restored site has two residential rentals, a modern conference room, and office space for Hernley and Associates.  Images of the structures show a remarkable transformation.  An open house is planned for late spring when the project is completed.

Pride in Community and Passion for the Job – Mayor Mike Amyx Visits Lawrence Central

mike-amyxSix term Mayor Mike Amyx is no stranger to the job, which he refers to as the best elected position in Kansas.  Mike is also a barber and business owner of Amyx Barber Shop located in down town Lawrence.  His family has operated the business since 1942.  The job makes him very available to the citizens of the community.  He is the former Chair of the Kansas Board of Barbering and he has also served as a Douglas County Commissioner.  Mike had good words for civic groups like Rotary, noting that city staff can’t do everything.  Being Mayor is a 24-7 commitment and Mike states that he enjoys being busy with city business.  He noted some dramatic moments he has experienced, including the visit of President Obama and the opportunity to represent Lawrence on a visit to the Big Red One’s exercises in Arizona.

The Mayor spoke of big challenges facing the city with lots of infrastructure projects, policy decisions regarding development, and the selection of the new city manager.  He also believes that the principle of home rule is under fire as the legislature in Topeka looks for solutions to the state budget crisis.  The Mayor lamented lightly attended public hearing opportunities and urged citizens to vote their convictions.  He took questions on the police station planning, city abatement policy and prospects for a down town grocery store.  The Mayor expressed considerable pride in the community and enthusiasm for his job.  He was thanked for his years of service to the community

Steven Lane Awarded Lawrence Central’s Becky Castro Award

Steve Lane Reveiving the Becky Castro AwardSteve Lane received the “Becky Castro Award” at the club’s anniversary dinner held on March 2, 2016.  Steve has been a member of Lawrence Central Rotary for eleven years (since December 2004).  He is a past president of the club (2009-2010), a Paul Harris Fellow, and regular contributor to Rotary Foundation.  He is at meetings regularly, always ready to present the “News of the Day.”  Most significantly, Steve initiated the Community Bike Rides beginning in 2011, our signature event, and he continues to manage the project with skill and enthusiasm as we enter its sixth season.

Campbell quotes her thank you letter to Steve after last fall’s Bike Ride:

“As always, you impress me with your marvelous attention to detail regarding the Community Bike Rides, Steve.  You have certainly met your goal of making this initiative easily replicable each year.  It seems to run like clockwork, but it wouldn’t happen without your leadership.  I know it is a tremendous time commitment for you, and you need to know how much the club and I appreciate your work.  Thank you for creating and sustaining our signature project!”

Rebecca “Becky” Lizabeth Castro was a founding member of our club who died after a long illness in June 2014 at the age of 68.  A lifelong resident of Lawrence, Becky was active not only in Rotary, but also numerous other community organizations.  Her warm welcome greeted everyone who came to a Lawrence Central Rotary meeting.  In spring 2015, Past-Presidents Tobin Neis and Carolyn DeSalvo conceived of the Becky Castro Award as a way to honor the memory of this tireless founding member.  The criteria state that the award be given to a member who exemplifies the dedication to community service and the love of Rotary that Becky displayed.

Congratulations, Steve Lane, on receiving the first Becky Castro Award.  Thank you for all you have done for Lawrence Central Rotary and the Lawrence community.

Lawrence Central is a Teenager!

We’re a teenager!  2016 marks thirteen years that Lawrence Central Rotary has been in existence. Twenty members and fourteen guests gathered from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 2, at Marceli’s to celebrate.

Thanks and kudos to Shon Qualseth for making the arrangements.  Marceli’s was a perfect venue and a great host.  The choice of a buffet of appetizers instead of a sit-down meal made the whole evening feel more relaxed and certainly encouraged mingling and table-hopping.  Obviously, the food selection was a hit, as most of the platters were empty at the end of the evening.

As President Kate Campbell said in her comments that night, our club at thirteen-years-old has many attributes of a stereotypical teenager.  We are growing quickly—eight new members since this time last year.  Sometimes we’re a bit gangly and awkward because of our growth spurts—as evidenced by the fact that our meeting space at the Eldridge is a bit tight these days.

Like a teen, we’re increasingly strong and mature and confident of our identity in the Lawrence community.  Our budget is solid.  Board members are active and talented.  We never have trouble getting stimulating programs for our meetings or finding volunteers for our various community projects.  We look outward to donate to international initiatives as well as supporting local ones. Our signature event in the Community Bike Rides will take place for the sixth time this season.  Certainly we love our Rotary friends and like to hang out together.  And we are full of exuberance, optimism and enthusiasm for what’s ahead.

It’s great to be a teenager!  Here’s to many more years ahead.

Tenants to Homeowners Exec Dir Rebecca Buford Talks Home Ownership

rebeccaRebecca Buford executive director of Tenants to Homeowners, the Lawrence Community Housing Trust Program, believes people who own their own homes have a better life in almost every area. But NOT, she said, if they are housing burdened.

Paying more than 30% of one’s income for housing is called housing burdened and causes families to neglect other parts of their lives such as medical care, to deprive children, and just lower the general quality of life.

“According to the latest economic data,” Buford said “average Lawrence income is the lowest of any metro area in the state and the cost of living is the highest. This means that many hardworking families, especially young families,  cannot afford to buy their own homes.

“Affordable housing sustains communities and Tenants to Homeowners is creating affordable homeownership opportunities for the Lawrence workforce.”

The group offers subsidies for first time buyers to create a starter market.  For those who are income eligible and complete other requirements, they provide homes in trust. There are currently  75  such homes all over Lawrence.

“I work for the next generation,” Buford said. “If we had more affordable housing we wouldn’t need so many social services.”

Since 1992 Tenants to Homeowners has acquired, built or rehabbed over 400 units of affordable housing. in Lawrence.

They are also committed to senior housing. Cedarwood Senior Cottages will be 14 units and the first rental project designed to address the fastest growing adult population—seniors aged 62 or older—to be completed by the end of 2016.

“There are 20 million retirees  in the nation today and the number will keep growing,” Buford said. “We need to help them too.

Lawrence Community Shelter’s Trey Meyer Speaks to Lawrence Central Rotary

Lawrence Community Shelter's Trey Meyer Talks to Lawrence Central RotaryTrey Meyer , executive director of the Lawrence Community Shelter, says he believes in telling stories. He tells the story of his own battle with alcoholism to encourage others and he wants to tell the Community Shelter’s story  to the local community.

“People hear the negatives about the shelter,” he told Central Rotarians on Feb. 17. “Our job is to tell them what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and the results. When they hear all about us, they’re happy to give us money.

“We’re solution oriented,” he said. “Our ultimate goal is to get people in here and then return them to society in better shape then they were.”

Meyer, started at the shelter as a driver, said changing mindsets is critical. People who are worried about surviving aren’t  going to aspire to much else.

“At the end of the day everything we do is to give someone the reason to get up in the morning and go forward.”

Financial dislocations such as lost jobs bring people to the shelter. People come to because they’ve exhausted all other resources and they’re in crisis.

”We deal with mental health issues, occasional physical health issues. Alcohol is always a problem We work hard to make this a dry  shelter for alcoholics. “

The shelter has 125 beds but houses many more in cold weather. “We have 35 or 40 in the family program and average 22 children, which is only about 25% of the homeless children in Douglas County.”  In 2015 the shelter served 775 individuals with the help of local agencies such as Bert Nash, LMH.

In 2016 Meyer said he wants the shelter, which operates on a $900,000 budget,  to do a better job with health resources and coaching to get people ready to leave, and to work to provide transitional housing for people ready to re enter society.

Drew vonEhrenkrook, director of  employment and vocational rehabilitation at the shelter accompanied Meyer and talked to Rotarians after the meeting about his role in sharing skills and techniques that improve clients’ employability teaching life skills that are necessary to be successful in all aspects of independent living, finding employment opportunities, and helping clients who are employed maintain their jobs and morale.

If you are interested in helping the Lawrence Community Shelter by getting involved or would like to donate you can get more information on their website at

Civil Liberties Champion – Doug Bonney of ACLU of Kansas Speaks to Lawrence Central

Doug Bonney, Chief Council ACLU - KansasDoug Bonney, Chief Council and Legislative Director of The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kansas, spoke on the organization’s history, mission and current activities.  The ACLU was founded in the early 1920’s in reaction to government repression of war dissenters who were often harassed and imprisoned.  Through legal action, lobbying and education the ACLU set out to define the meaning of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution as it applied to all people.  The ACLU has a history of taking on unpopular and precedent setting cases including the Scopes Monkey Trial, mandatory school prayer, the Skokie, Illinois Nazi march, and Roe vs. Wade.

The ACLU of Kansas is a local nonprofit, nonpartisan chapter with the goal of defending the rights and civil liberties of persons regardless of race, creed, color, gender or class.  The organization has two full time and two part time staff and a 13 member board.  The ACLU often advocates for the most marginalized members of society for voter rights, criminal justice reform, free speech, privacy, reproductive freedom, LGBT equality, women’s rights, racial justice, immigrant rights and religious freedom.   The Kansas chapter has recently achieved some notable victories in court.  Doug Bonney argued successfully for marriage equality, describing it as the “civil rights issue of our time.”  Another victory was scored when the court struck down the “two tiered” portion of the Kansas voter registration law that was ruled to be an unlawful requirement.  The speaker indicated that the current state legislative session would be particularly challenging for supporters of civil liberties.  Learn more about the ACLU of Kansas and their program for 2016 by visiting

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