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RI President Ian Riseley Greets District 5710

When Rotary International President Ian Riseley came to District 5710 on Wednesday, May 30, Lawrence Central Rotarians attended the reception.  Janis Bunker, Lee Anne Thompson, and Kate Campbell made the drive to Atchison, KS, for the event.

A performance by the Top Dogs Drill Team launched the gathering with rhythm and enthusiasm.

In addition to making comments from the podium, Riseley helped to honor recent Paul Harris Fellows from the District and unveiled a marker indicating that three new trees outside the Atchison YMCA were placed in response to Eiseley’s challenge to plant a tree for every Rotarian during his year in office.

Adrian Zink Tells Stories Overlooked in Kansas History

Adrian Zink, a Kansas native, had his interest in history sparked by a high school teacher who made the past come alive with interactive classroom experiences.  After  earning a degree from KU, he worked at museums, universities, archives and historic sites.  His recently published book, Hidden History of Kansas, digs deep into the state’s history to relate the overlooked stories of “fascinating firsts, humorous coincidences, and intriguing characters.”

One of Zink’s favorite stories is about auto polo.  A sport dreamed up in 1911 as a marketing stunt by a Ford dealer in Topeka,  it became popular coast to coast  into the 1920’s.  The matches pitted two cars per team against each other with two men in each car–one to drive and one to hit the ball with the mallet.  Truly a “lunatic game,” it did lead to the first patented roll bar for a vehicle.

Boston Corbett is the man who shot John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, despite orders to capture Booth alive.  Courtmartialed over the incident, the trigger-happy Corbett became notorious for his erratic behavior, likely caused by mercury poisoning from the years he was a hat-maker.  He moved west and homesteaded in Kansas, became a street-corner preacher, and eventually was hired as a doorkeeper for the Kansas House of Representatives.  When he brandished a gun inside the statehouse, the legislators committed him to the state mental asylum.  Two years late, he escaped and was never found again.

Railroad executives renamed the town of Weeks, KS,  after a St. Louis baseball player named Bushong in 1886 without consulting the residents.  Why? Because the St. Louis Browns had won with World Series over the Chicago White Stockings that year.

Susanna Salter became the first female mayor in the United States in 1887.  Nominated as a joke by the men in Argonia, KS, she was elected by a strong majority just weeks after women had been given the right to vote in Kansas city elections.  She served capably but briefly, leaving office after one year and never seeking elected office again.

Health and Quality of Life Requires Community-Wide Focus

Dan Partridge, head of the Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health Department, shared a report on the health of Lawrence .

The forty-two people who work in the Public Health Department are proud of its designation as an “accredited health department.”  Together, they strive to fulfill their mission:  To improve health for all.

According to Partridge, quality of life for a person and for a community are impacted by the same factors.  About 10% is influenced by health care; 10% by the physical environment; 40% by socio-economic factors; and 40% by health behaviors.

Douglas County is among the top ten counties in the country on many measures.  The community compares particularly well regarding its low teen birth rates and its few preventable hospital stays, for example.  Areas that need more work are in affordable housing, excessive drinking, social isolation, and income inequality.  All such issues are complex and difficult to impact.  On many measures, a distinction is apparent between the quality of life in East and North Lawrence as compared to West Lawrence.

Public health has 140 years of history in Kansas, Partridge says.  At the onset in 1885, the focus was on improving the environment.  By the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s, the emphasis was on disseminating the innovations made possible by medical science.  Vaccination services, family clinics, and the Healthy Family Program all emerged in that era and continue today.  In the future, community health must re-invent itself once again to address new dangers, moving beyond the clinic and into the community itself.  Currently, the Department is focusing on healthy foods and physical activity, poverty and jobs, behavioral health, and affordable housing all viewed through the lens of discrimination and racism that unfortunately underlies each of these issues.


The Buzz About Native Bees

Sue Funk, Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Douglas County Conservation District, is the right person to give “The Buzz About Native Bees.”

Funk explains that there are many types of bees.  Some bees are generalists and visit all types of plants; others, such as the blue sage bee, are specialists. Some are solitary; others live in colonies.  Some are mellow; others anger easily.  Only honey bees can be “managed.”

Did you know?

♦   There are over 3,000 species of bees in Kansas.
♦   Native bees do the most efficient job of pollinating native plants in Kansas.
♦   Honey bees are not native to the state.

Although there are other pollinators—monarch butterflies, birds, and bats, for example—bees do 75% of all the pollination to keep crops and gardens productive.   Pollinators of all types are decreasing in numbers.  Planting a pollinator garden is one way to help ensure that bees and other pollinators flourish.




Steve Lane Rallies LCR for 8th Year of Community Bike Rides

The annual Community Bike Ride has become not only a celebrated event in Lawrence, but also an anticipated tradition in Steve Lane’s family.

“On March 21st my son, who is eight years old, came to me so excited,” said Lane. “‘Dad, it’s only four months to the Community Bike Ride!'” Now entering its eight year, the bike ride has been part of his entire life.

The idea for the Community Bike Ride was born in 2009.  Lawrence Central Rotary club members met with Marilyn Hall, of Douglas County Community Foundation. The club was looking to discern:

  • What do we want to do in this community?
  • What do we stand for?

Hall shared that the Foundation had identified that while there was a strong local biking community, it was not accessible to families. Recreational opportunities were geared toward high-end riders.

With support from the Foundation, the Club built and had enough funds to manage two years of the ride.

While the activities at the ride and sponsorships and partnerships have increased, the purpose of the ride has remained the same, to promote biking as a fun and healthy activity for families.

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