Week that was

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

KUVOYEURGARAGE.COM: A much-anticipated plan to put surveillance cameras in parking lots of Kansas University residence halls is almost done. There have been at least four violent crimes in residence-hall parking lots since 2003, including an armed robbery of a KU freshman in the GSP/Corbin garage and a student held at knifepoint by a masked man near the Lied Center. KU's Public Safety Office would not say how many cameras total were being installed, but he said the cost for this round of cameras was about $280,000.

IF I HAD A HAMMER...: A carpenter and former Christian-school leader convicted of strangling his wife pressed his hand to his heart Wednesday as he pleaded with a judge for a new trial. "The system failed," Martin K. Miller told Judge Paula Martin during his sentencing in Douglas County District Court. "I feel that my trial was a tragedy. ... Give all of us hope that a wrongfully convicted man can find justice in this courtroom." But Judge Paula Martin said there were no grounds to grant Miller's request. She gave him the sentence required under state law for first-degree murder: life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years - what Miller called "essentially a death sentence."

LAWRENCE SALVATION ARMY NO LONGER ALL THAT IT CAN BE: For years, Lawrence's thrift-shop economy has been dominated by Goodwill Industries and the Salvation Army. But the SA closed its thrift store last week after giving up the lease at its 1818 Mass. location. The SA continues to accept donations for other cities' stores at a trailer parked on the northwest corner of 19th Street and Haskell Avenue. Although Goodwill (2200 W 31st St.) is now the sole full-scale thrift store in Lawrence, several smaller outlets have limited offerings:

¢ St. John's Rummage House, 1246 Ky. (331-2219)

Items: Clothing, household and kitchen items, furniture, small appliances.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays. 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays.

Donations may be left on the house's porch during the day. Before leaving large items, please call 331-2219.

¢ Lawrence Social Service League Store, 905 R.I. (843-5414)

Items: Clothing, household and kitchen items, bicycles, tables and chairs, small appliances, toys.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Friday. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.

Donations accepted only during store hours.

¢ Penn House, 1035 Pa. (842-0440)

Items: Clothing, household and kitchen items, canned goods, small appliances.

Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Donations accepted only during store hours.

¢ Ballard Community Center, 708 Elm (842-0729)

Items: Children's clothing.

Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Donations accepted only during store hours.

LIBERAL CITY COMMISSION ALLOWS CONTINUED DESECRATION OF THE LORD'S DAY: Liquor stores are only lukewarm to the idea of allowing Sunday sales to continue in the city, according to a new city commission-sponsored survey.

But a pair of city commissioners said Friday that they likely would vote to allow the practice to continue because they haven't heard that Sunday sales have created any problems.

"If there was some type of uproar about it, then we would need to look at it, but that hasn't happened," Commissioner Mike Amyx said. City commissioners are scheduled to vote on an ordinance at this week's Tuesday meeting that would allow Sunday sales to continue. Because of new regulations passed during the last legislative session, all cities that currently are allowing Sunday sales must pass a new ordinance before Nov. 15 or Sunday sales automatically become illegal.

AT LEAST WE'RE NOT MAKING IT HARD FOR POOR PEOPLE TO GET AN EDUCATION: The state may be sending more funds to Lawrence schools, but that won't lower student fees. Not this year anyway.

"I believe in a free public education system, and this isn't quite free," school board member Craig Grant said. "It's a shame we couldn't get it done this year."

Student fees generate more than $1 million yearly for the school district, according to Supt. Randy Weseman. And Grant and some fellow board members said in the upcoming year they wanted to explore ways to eliminate or roll some fees back.

Meanwhile, many students must pay to ride the school bus, park their cars, use textbooks, play sports, march in the band and take certain courses.

A typical fifth grader who has to pay to ride the bus would pay $352 a year. That's $240 for the bus, $72 for textbook rental, $15 for instructional materials, $10 for technology, and $15 for activity trips.

The fees started three years ago when the district was crunched by reduced state support and, in some cases, the fees staved off program cuts.

SURE IT'S LAWRENCE ... BUT IT'S STILL KANSAS, TOO: They enjoy working on cars, scouring salvage yards for early 1970s Impalas, and they absolutely love the sound of metal crashing against metal on hot summer nights. They are demolition derby drivers, and this is their time of year. It's the season for county fairs, and almost every fair seems to have a night set aside for a demolition derby. There is no shortage of drivers and fans to line up early at rodeo arena gates to make sure they get their annual fix of motorized mayhem. Upcoming fairs and demo derbies: Aug. 5: 7 p.m., Lawrence, Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds. Aug. 6: 7:30 p.m., Overbrook, Osage County Fairgrounds. Aug. 13: 6:30 p.m., Tonganoxie, Leavenworth County Fairgrounds. Aug. 13: 7 p.m., Gardner, Johnson County Fairgrounds. Full story and more info online at lawrence.com.

THIS JUST IN...LITTLE SIZE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BLACK AND WHITE PECKERS: KU biologist Mark Robbins would love to be wrong about this, but he really thinks that big woodpecker that got everyone so excited in April was pileated, not the ivory-billed variety believed to be extinct since the 1940s.

"They're both big woodpeckers," the biologist and manager of the Kansas University Natural History Museum said last week. "They're both black and white. And you have to look at that distribution of that white and black. ... That's what this is all about - the devil is in the details."

Robbins and three colleagues are challenging that assertion with a study that has been provisionally accepted for publication in the Public Library of Science. A rebuttal defense of the original sighting, printed in Science, also will be published.

Robbins declined to give details of his team's argument before the paper is published. However, he said the group looked at video and specimens in KU's bird collection. The university has one ivory-billed woodpecker collected in Florida.