Tabatha Mills is a Bakersfield, California native. She spent most of her childhood on a farm, in a ballet studio or on the basketball court. All three still hold a very special place in her heart. Given her basketball background she's very excited to now live in Lawrence, the home of the University of Kansas Jayhawks.
Tabatha attended college at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. She majored in agribusiness and minored in agricultural communications, journalism, marketing, and theatre. After graduating she worked in the California rodeo system as a marketing and public relations manager. She then interned with the Tampa Bay Rays in Florida as an on-field in-game coordinator. After that, she found herself in front of the camera working as an anchor and reporter in east Tennessee. That was until that fateful day that she applied at 6News and knew from the first email she received from News Director Lindsey Slater that she wanted to join the 6News team!
Outside of work, Tabatha enjoys volunteering for various organizations whenever she can. She loves working with children and given her chipper attitude, they love working with her. She also enjoys the arts and all they encompass. From music, to movies, to art exhibits. There's a good chance you can find her enjoying something arts related.
Tabatha said it is her goal every day to bring a smile to someone's face. If you've ever spent 20 minutes with her, you'll probably leave with one.
In ending her bio, she had a few things to say. The first, something her father says to her nearly every day: "Gabba Gabba Hey."
The second, her favorite: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. You're playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." - Marianne Williamson
You can find Tabatha on Facebook here and follow her on Twitter here.
Friday the Supreme Court issued their opinion on the Gannon v. State of Kansas lawsuit, which claims the legislature unconstitutionally, withheld funding from Kansas Schools. The Supreme court agrees that was the case when it came to capital outlay funding for schools, which is state money issued to schools for capital projects, as well as supplemental general state aid, which are funds meant for lower income districts. The date July 1st was issued for the legislature to restore that money.
"The state may well have to pay $129 million," said Burdett Loomis, a Political Science Professor at University of Kansas.
However when it comes to the big issue of the lawsuit, the claim that the state does not provide enough state aid per pupil, the Supreme Court asked the three judge panel overseeing case to take another look.
"They kicked the big issue on the equality of education back to the three judge panel for further rulings," said Loomis.
The Supreme Court asked the panel to re-evaluate the numbers, a move that created different reactions from the capitol.
"Some people have interpreted this as a big wind for the plaintiffs, the people who want more money, but you certainly see the governor and others seeing it as a possibility to change some standards and perhaps modify what is meant by suitable education," said Loomis.
Lawrence Public Schools would like to see the student funding increased.
"We need to make sure that our Kansas students are getting the highest quality education that they can," said Jerri Kemble, Assistant Superintendent Educational Programs and Technology.
And now the question is, what will happen with this numbers are re-calculated and presented again?
"Some people might think that there is going to be immediate action. My sense is that this is going to be a part of the legislative session and then will move into the governor's race," said Loomis, "I think we'll have education, this issue, on our platter for a while more."
School officials hope a decision can be made sooner rather than later.
"A way that they can equitably fund all of the school districts in Kansas because at the end of the day it's all about the kids," said Kimble.
But according to KU Political Science Professor Burdett Loomis, a decision might not make a difference.
"You don't really know what the legislature is going to do because it has expressed a lot of antagonism toward the court," said Loomis.
18-year-old Eagle Scout Alex Houston is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.
"We fly down to a small town at the tip of Argentina and we stay there for a couple of days and do some exploring and activities there. Then we take an ice breaker from the tip of Argentina across the Drake Passage and then we make it Antarctica," said Houston.
Houston is the only Scout from the United States selected to travel with Sir Robert Swan, a polar explorer, and Swan's organization 2041.
"Currently there is a moratorium in Antarctica on drilling for oil or any other resources, his organizations goal is that come 2041 it get renewed," said Houston.
Houston's Scout Leaders say this expedition and Houston's chance to work with Sir Robert Swan and 2041, is an amazing honor for an amazing young man.
"Alex is one of our standout scouts. To become and Eagle Scout, only about 4% of the boys who start out in Boy Scouts actually make it to Eagle, so he is an extraordinary young man," said Rich Bailey, a District Advancement Chairman for Boy Scouts of America.
It doesn't stop there. Houston is also a National Merit Finalist and has a passion for political science, global relations, and of course global conservation.
"It's an isolated part of the world, so few people have been there that it's kind of hard to know what to expect. I'm really interested in the conservation part of it specifically," said Houston.
Houston had to send in a bio and a video on the importance of sustainability to be considered for to go on the trip.
"I was pretty surprised they liked what I had to say," said Houston
Now the sole Scout from the U.S is about to start his journey to the cold continent, but his scout leaders have one more piece of advice before he leaves.
"Dress very warm, take your long johns," said Bailey.
"I've got just about every type of coat that you could need when we're down there. I'm very excited," said Houston.
Houston will also present his findings during the adventure at Boy Scouts of America's "Sustainability Summit" this fall in West Virginia.
He also hopes while he is on his arctic adventure, to hear from college he has applied to. He hopes to attend college at Georgetown or George Washington and study Political Science.
"We're educating high school students on seat belt use and bringing that awareness and why seat belts are so important," said Laura Moore, SAFE Initiative Coordinator.
Through a two week seat belt enforcement campaign, the organization aims to teach students that the first thing they should do when they get in a car is buckle up. Students join the effort through rallies and classroom conversations on the importance of buckling up.
"You don't think about it but the work, the impact that these student are having on their peers, is possibly saving their friends," said Moore.
Listen to what some students at Eudora High School have to say about the SAFE Initiative.
"Wearing your seat belt is really important and it could save your life," said Broderick Topil, a junior at Eudora High School.
"It is just five seconds and it can save your life, I don't see why you wouldn't buckle up," said Cassy Wise, also a junior at Eudora High School.
The students also take it one step further to make sure their friends are always safe.
"We have students sign their name on a pledge card saying that they will always wear their seat belt," said Topil.
Efforts that officials said the students may never find out just how helpful they were, but not knowing how they've helped is better than the alternative.
"You never know the lives that you save, but you always remember the lives that you didn't save," said Moore.
The SAFE initiative ends on March 7. Currently, 54 counties totaling 124 schools participate in the program statewide.
"We are looking at moving the playground up next to the building so that is easier access for people in our programs and summer camps, also for people who need access to the restroom facilities. They're right there and people won't have to walk as far," said Roger Steinbrock, Marketing Supervisor at Lawrence Parks and Recreation.
"This playground will kind of make it a full service facility," said Shannon Oury, Executive Director of the Lawrence Douglas County Housing Authority.
After two public meetings on the future of Edgewood Park, parks and rec officials took feedback from residents and created new playground designs for the park.
"People are looking at that interactive play and using imagination, that's what play is all about, so we're looking at a playground that maybe has a combination of both of those worlds," said Steinbrock.
Steinbrock said a good example of what the park could resemble is the new park on 15th Street with its futuristic space feel where children's imaginations can run wild. As of now, a quick survey shows that's exactly what the children are hoping for.
"They asked them which one they would prefer to play on and they said the Miracle one," said Oury.
But with one minor change.
"Swings was a big thing that was talked about so we've added some additional swings as well into these designs," said Steinbrock.
The city previously received the same grant to remodel Johns Taylor Park. Parks and Recreation officials said more details will emerge on the future of Edgewood Park in mid to late April.
"The district has two different areas so the south plan has been approved and now the north plan is coming forward. This item will set that public hearing and there is also a public hearing for consideration of a number of other items on the April 8th agenda including the redevelopment agreement, industry revenue bond financing and things like that," said Diane Stoddard, Assistant City Manager as she addressed the commission Tuesday night.
April 8th the city will hold a public meeting addressing the proposed Tax Increment Finance District, or TIF District, as well as the Transportation Development District for the north portion of the redevelopment project.
However, before the commission agreed on the public hearing date, a concern was brought before the commission by several members of the community.
"We're very concerned about the mural, the Pollinators mural which is on the northern wall of the former black hills energy building," said KT Walsh, who represented the East Lawrence Neighborhood association at the commission meeting.
The mural was created by international muralist and Lawrence resident Dave Loewenstein, who says it was meant to capture the cultural black history of Kansas.
"The mural has been featured numerous times at the national endowment for the arts, it's the mast head on our own cities Wikipedia page for our arts section, it even is featured as the definition of public art on the eHow website," said Dave Loewenstein, the artist of the mural.
Some are worried with the new construction surrounding 9th and New Hampshire that it will be removed.
"They need to talk about it," said Walsh.
"This was a controversial development and I think it was handled well by the city commission and the developers. I would encourage them to continue in the line of working with the public on this particular issue and trying to resolve it before that April 8th time," said Commissioner Terry Riordan, at the commission meeting.
"When you hear the sirens you need to take cover immediately," said Jillian Rodrigue, Assistant Director at Douglas County Emergency Management.
That is something you may know, but something you may not know?
"We've had pretty much a tornado every month of the year in history. You never know when it's going to happen. The better prepared we are the better off we'll be," said Terri Smith, Director at Douglas County Emergency Management.
"Practice really does make perfect in this case," said Rodrigue.
That's why emergency officials across the state of Kansas hold tornado drills, to test sirens and their procedures in hopes that you would test out your severe weather plan.
"It gives everybody the chance to practice it so then they know, this is what worked well, this is what we need to improve on. What don't we have in our kits? What don't we have in our communications plan? Is our kit up to date? Do we have all of the supplies that we need in it?" said Smith.
If you don't have a plan, emergency officials said, with the severe weather season upon us, now is the time to get a plan in place.
"Get a little bit of muscle memory of understanding how you would get that information and where you would go," said Rodrigue.
As Rodrigue said, how are you going to find out if severe weather is headed your way? The best way? Your cell phone. Emergency officials suggest signing up for free Iris notifications on your phone.
"It will send you a text, a phone call, an email to tell you about the watches and warnings that are occurring at that time," said Smith.
Smith also said it's good practice to check in on your local weather forecast every morning this time of year. Adding to your plan, where should you take cover?
"You want to go to the lowest level of the building and get to an interior room with no windows," said Rodrigue.
Rodrigue said make sure you know where that area is in every building, your home, your work, even while out shopping. And if you're thinking, "I have time to make a plan, or update my current one," you may not.
"Being in Kansas you never know when that actual event is going to occur," said Smith.
Here's a little background on the construction:
In 2012, the City Commission established a Tax Increment Finance District, also called a TIF District, for the 9th and New Hampshire Redevelopment project, which was broken down into two pieces, North and South. That same year commissioners approved a Transportation Development District, or TDD, which will add an additional sales tax of 1 percent on purchases made in the TIF District. That tax increase would give the city $850,000 for the existing 9th and New Hampshire area parking garage.
Flash forward a year to 2013, the redevelopment plan for the South Project area was approved. The South Project included the construction of the new hotel on the corner of 9th and New Hampshire. Now the North Project area is left, and a proposal has been submitted to build a new $24.5 million mixed-use apartment building with underground parking. However, there is one more step left, a public hearing must be held. The public must also be allowed to comment on the TDD or 1 percent sales tax increase in the area.
City staff has recommended commissioners move to hold a public meeting for both items on April 8. Tuesday night on 6News at 10 find out what the commission decides.
At a workshop on the University of Kansas campus, members of the community are working on what are known as "pocket libraries".
"They're kind of neat, when people see them they don't forget them," said Matthew Burke, a professor at the University of Kansas.
But what is a pocket library? Here's the answer, it's a way to make reading and art more accessible in our community for people of all ages.
"They're small structures that exist in people's neighborhoods and there are books in them. The idea is you can come and take a book and leave a book, or just take a book, but they're sort of little circulating libraries and they reflect the taste of the people who own them," said Burke.
Kind of like a mailbox, the pocket libraries will be stationed throughout the city for neighborhoods to enjoy. Intrigued? Well keep reading, guess where the wood came from for these projects? It's recycled from tree's that had to be removed from the site of the new Lawrence Public Library.
"When those trees were going to get taken down, the idea was that the trees should get repurposed in some way and that's what these libraries are, the wood from those trees," said Burke.
"Obviously I'm a big fan of the library in general and the expansion that they are doing, but the fact that we get to reuse this wood and make it into more libraries for the community is great," said Beth McKeon, Publisher of the Lawrence Kids Calendar.
In a town that loves its library, loves to read, and values education, although not quite finished or set up in the community yet people are already excited.
"I absolutely love the idea of pocket libraries being all over the city and I am excited to be a part of it. I'm actually making one that is specifically for kids and the feedback that I've gotten from kids is that they are super excited about just being able to pick out books and others that their kids are done with and share it with other families," said McKeon.
Several pocket libraries will also be auctioned off and all proceeds will go to the Lawrence Public Library. The date for that auction is not yet set, but officials say it will most likely be in the summer and will coordinate with the opening of the new library.
"Tomorrow I will be 100. Born in 1914, first day of March," said Verna Salmon.
By talking with her, I would have never guessed Verna Salmon is about to turn 100. Then again, Verna joked with me that I probably don't know too many 100 year olds.
"Well have you talked to many?" laughed Salmon.
What else did Verna tell me?
"There are so many things," laughed Salmon.
Here we go. What is her favorite food?
"Everything but fish," said Salmon.
What type of music does she prefer?
"I don't know what my favorite is, but I like music and listen to it a lot," said Salmon.
What she can't go one day without?
"I read the Bible every day," said Salmon.
Verna's secret to a long full life?
"Just trust in the Lord," said Salmon.
"She's such a magnificent woman. We're just very blessed to have her," said Suzy Jack, Life Enrichment Coordinator at Windsor of Lawrence.
How does she want to spend her Birthday?
"Well I think the main thing is getting to see everybody. I celebrated my 90th you know and they had a party for me, and I got over 100 cards, and I'm getting several this time," said Salmon.
There's no doubting that, just spending a minute with Verna you can understand why she is very much loved.
"She's very, very, very active. Her memory is so good. She doesn't miss an activity. She gets up earlier than I do in the morning," said Jack.
And after a long chat I asked her if she had anything else to say, she did ending our conversation with the following statement.
"Well I guess the good Lord is just not ready for me," said Salmon.
Whether it's: "I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them Sam I Am."
Or: "A person's a person, no matter how small."
Even: "He should not be here," said the fish in the pot. "He should not be here when your mother is not."
You can probably clear your throat, and recite one Dr. Seuss quote.
"All people recognize Dr. Seuss and children love Dr. Seuss and their parents loved Dr. Seuss," said Anne Tormohlen, Library Media Specialist at Deerfield Elementary.
"The rhythm and the fun pictures, and he's just so wacky and uniquely appealing," said Jennifer Cook, the Children's Librarian at the Lawrence Public Library.
To celebrate his turning 110 years old, Deerfield Elementary invited guest to let their inner Seuss unfold.
It's all a part of special day, it's called Read Across America, a yearly way to celebrate Dr. Seuss birthday.
But it's more than just that, it's meant to inspire children to read and have fun, like The Cat in the Hat.
"It's to get them to read every day, and every time they can hear someone say I read every day is just so important," said Tormohlen.
"When you read it's like you experience all of these different things so it definitely broadens their world to be able to be good readers," said Cook.
And as all Dr. Seuss books end, with a little bit of inspiration and magic, so shall this, with another Dr. Seuss classic.
"You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child."
Dr. Seuss's actual Birthday is on Sunday, over the next week schools across the nation will invite guests in to read his books to children.