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Shelter Box Leads The Way With Agile Disaster Response

SheterBoxUSA's Jeff DeatherageLeawood Rotarian Jeff Deatherage spoke to Lawrence Central Rotary about ShelterBox USA and his role as a Response Team member.  The ShelterBox organization is an international nonprofit effort to provide shelter and vital supplies in response to disasters and humanitarian crises. The program is most known for the distinct green plastic boxes containing tents, blankets, ground covers, water storage and purification devices, solar lamps, cooking supplies, a basic tool kit, mosquito netting, and a children’s activity kit.  ShelterBox response is tailored to each unique situation as only the supplies that are needed are distributed.

The idea for the program was developed by a local Rotary Club in Cornwall, England in April 2000.  This project was quickly adopted by other clubs and has grown into an organization with twenty international affiliates.  ShelterBox has responded to 270 disasters in 95 different geographic locations and served over one million people.

Jeff explained the work requires considerable coordination and communication with local officials and other aid providers.  The world -wide network of Rotary is heavily depended on to accomplish deployments of supplies.  Presently, ShelterBox has representatives and assistance on the ground in Syria in preparation to assist 300,000 civilians trapped in Aleppo by fierce fighting.

Jeff explained that his role as a ShelterBox Ambassador involves periodic training and a willingness to deploy for two weeks each year.  Jeff has deployed to Paraguay for flooding, the Philippines after a tsunami, and twice to Oklahoma for tornado relief.  He makes numerous speaking engagements each year and often sets up demonstration tents and supplies as he did for the fall LCR Community Bike Ride.   He thanked LCR for past support of ShelterBox and presented the club with a Shelter Box Hero award.  More information is available at shelterboxusa.org.

Lawrence receives Bronze Rank from the American League of Bicyclists

The City of Lawrence received great news and Lawrence Central is proud to have helped the city to be able to achieve this designation!

City of Lawrence Kansas Transportation News

loab-bronzeThe City of Lawrence has been honored again as a Bronze Rank Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC). The City first received this designation in 2004 from the American League of Bicyclists. There are now 404 communities recognized in the U.S. as Bicycle Friendly Communities; this is Lawrence’s fifth successful application. The Bronze level BFC award recognizes Lawrence’s commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies.

Lawrence-Douglas County Bicycle Advisory Committee members prepared the application utilizing information, such as data collected from bike/pedestrian counts, safety material, outreach efforts, and lane mileage. This year’s application featured Lawrence’s completion of a number of projects that will form the “Lawrence Loop”, a 22-mile paved off-street path around the city, the bicycle education provided by Lawrence’s League Certified Cycling instructors, the on-bicycle safety education at local elementary schools, and the recent commitment in the city budget for bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure improvements.  The Lawrence Central Rotary Club’s Community Bike Ride, Safe Kids Douglas County Bicycle Rodeo and Helmet giveaways, the Tour of Lawrence, the Lawrence Mountain Bicycle Club’s partnership with Parks & Recreation for the development and maintenance of the Lawrence River Trails trail, the National Bicycle Challenge, and 100 percentage of buses equipped with bike racks were also highlighted as part of the application process.

By the numbers, Lawrence now has 16 miles of bike lanes, 9 miles of shared-lane markings (sharrows), 39 miles of signed bike routes, and 45 miles of paved shared use paths.

Four Kansas communities have received the Bicycle Friendly designation: Lawrence, Topeka, Manhattan, and Shawnee. Find out more information online at www.bikeleague.org/bfa.

Walking Through Lawrence History with Henry Fortunato

Henry Fortunato Walks though HistoryThe Burroughs Creek Trail in East Lawrence is a paved path and parkway running for 1.7 miles from 11th Street at the north end to 23rd Street on the south.  The trail leads walkers, runners, and bikers past sites that were significant in Lawrence history, blending both health and history for all who travel its length.

In a presentation to Lawrence Central Rotarians, Henry Fortunato explained the variety of historic places found along to the Burroughs Creek Trail.  The path “ties together William Clarke Quantrill, and Langston Hughes, 19th-century travelers on the Oregon Trail and World War II-era German prisoners of war, the artistry of William S. Burroughs and the agricultural history of Douglas County, plus a long-forgotten railroad line and a number of dimly-remembered east side neighborhood notables whose names still grace streets and parks,” to quote the Lawrence Public Library website.

Fortunato, retired director of public affairs at the Kansas City Library and recent Simons Public Humanities Fellow at the Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas, made headlines in 2014 for walking 500 miles across Kansas.  He said in interviews at the time that he wanted to “take the love for walking and exploring and create something everyone can enjoy.” He envisioned combining “all the things he’s learned in his professional career — public history, presentation, use of graduate students, humanities, and traveling exhibits — to enhance the walking and hiking trail experience in the greater Kansas City area by creating well designed interpretive panels” that tell about what happened along those trails.  Happily, Lawrence has become the beneficiary of Fortunato’s vision.

Fortunato’s comments referenced the traveling exhibit of ten panels that tell the stories of people, places, and events associated with the trail.  The exhibit is currently hosted at Watkins Museum of History.  By next spring, the panels of the traveling exhibit will be translated into interpretive signage along the Burroughs Creek Trail itself that will explain the points of interest and the history of area to people as they travel the length of the path.

Lawrence Central Rotary Launches 2016 Holiday Decoration Fundraiser

Lawrence Central Rotary Weath Sale 2016Lawrence Central has launched our annual fundraiser for the work we do every year. As in year’s past, we will be selling wreaths and other holiday decorations from Lynch Creek Farms and in Lawrence Central’s partnership with them we receive 20% back from every sale to help partially fund the service projects we do. Some examples of our service activities have included are:

We want to continue to do this work and more with help from you and all you need to do is simply purchase holiday decorations. You can do this by talking to any of our members or there’s an even easier way – go to our Lynch Creek fundraising website, peruse what they have and order yourself! We’ve even set up an easy link:


Lawrence Central Rotary Wreath Sale 2016If you’re not comfortable with ordering online we totally understand – you can also call Lynch Creek direct toll-free at 1-888-426-0781 and please mention/reference Lawrence Central Rotary’s Fundraiser #48825

Lynch Creek is a family business that started in 1980, now transformed from selling a few flowers and vegetables at the local farmers’ market on the weekends, to a full blown year-round business that ships throughout the United States.

Lynch Creek Farms have been amazing to work with and they care about the groups that sell their wreaths and decorations. Here’s a video about the business.

Ernie Shaw from Lawrence Parks & Rec Discusses Growing Awareness For All they Do

ernie-shawErnie 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.

Open World Team from Ukraine Visit Lawrence Central Rotary

Open World Leadership CenterWarm smiles. High energy. Endless enthusiasm. Poised professionalism. Fluent English.

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.

Open World team from Ukraine 2016Left to right, the team members are pictured with Jim Peters, president of Lawrence Central Rotary:

  • 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.

Lawrence’s Fall Community Bike Ride – A Great Time Had By All

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!

A Stellar Home For Naismith’s Original Rules For Basketball

curtish-marshFellow 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.

KU Political Science Professor Patrick Miller Discusses The Upcoming Elections

Patrick Miller KU | Lawrence Central RotaryPatrick R. Miller, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Kansas, emphasized the long-term consequences of the political races underway in both Kansas and the nation.

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-hargerMelinda 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.

Lawrence’s 2016 Fall Community Bike Ride Scheduled for Sept 17th

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.

Lawrence Fall Community Bike Ride 2016

Kansas River Keeper Dawn Buehler on Protecting and Preserving the Kansas (Kaw) River

ks-river-keepersThe 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.

The Kansas  River is one of three public waterways in the state and the volunteers encourage paddle trips and educational activities on the river.friends-of-the-kaw

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.

KU’s James Modig Discusses the New Central District Project to Lawrence Central

james-modigProgress 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 Discusses Health Care for the Uninsured

Beth-LlewellynBeth 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.

Beth Llewellyn Health Care Access | Lawrence Central RotaryHealth 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.

eXplore Lawrence’s Michael Davidson Talks Tourism to Lawrence Central Rotary

Michael Davidson | eXplore Lawrence | Lawrence Central RotaryLawrence is known as a place that is quirky, cool, fun, eclectic, and out-spoken.  “Like a great film, it leaves you wanting more.”

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.