Tabatha Mills

Tabatha Mills

Tabatha Mills, Anchor/Reporter

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.
A local gardening program continues to blossom as it expands to the Willow Domestic Violence Center in Lawrence. Organizers said it will not only help domestic violence survivors, but also those who help them every day.

"We're here to work with people to help with their safety and their health," Director of Community Engagement at the Willow Domestic Violence Center Kristine Chapman said.

Chapman said the center is able to provide what she calls everyday health necessities to the people they help.

"Shampoo, soap, basic kind of essentials like that," said Chapman.

However, Chapman said healthy food, things such as fresh vegetables and fruit are hard to provide.

"Good health and good nutrition is vital in order for us to have good healthy relationships," Executive Director at the Willow Domestic Violence Center Joan Schultz said.

"So the idea came up and you know we have some space here so why don't we grow some produce to give to them as well," said Chapman.

That's when Chapman said she spoke with city officials about the Common Ground Program; a program the City of Lawrence began in 2012 that looks to transform vacant or under-utilized city properties into community gardens.

"The city has been kind enough to let us use this ground right outside of our office to grow fresh produce for our shelter," said Schultz.

Soon bare land on the south side of the center will grow into a vibrant garden.

"Primarily vegetables and things like squashes, and tomatoes," said Chapman.

Which Chapman said will not only be helping the survivors better their health, but also the people who work with them every day.

"The nature of the work that we do is fairly intense and to be able to take a breath for a few minutes and go out and pick some tomatoes or do those kind of de-stress wellness activities is something that we are excited about as well" said Chapman.

The center will break ground on the garden on Saturday.

It's almost time! The downtown Lawrence men's Olympic shot put event is this Friday. Soon, the intersection of 8th and New Hampshire in downtown Lawrence will transform into a stage for Olympic medalists and world class athletes.

"We have four of the top 10 ranked throwers in the world coming in. I think our three headliners would be 2008 Olympic Silver Medalist Christian Cantwell, 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist Reese Hoffa, and 2014 World Indoor Champion Ryan Whiting," said Bob Sanner, Executive Director at Lawrence Sports Corporation

"It's a pretty big deal. We're the only city in North America to host this type of event of a track and field setting," said Mark Thiel, Assistant Public Works Director for the City of Lawrence.

City officials expect the event to bring in big crowds.

"Typically the event draws between 5,000 and 10,000 people," said Thiel.

With that amount of people, it might seem that putting on the event would create some big costs for the city, but that's actually not the case.

"The material gets donated from Hamm's Quarry Inc. every year. Really, the only monetary involvement the city has is the labor we use, our equipment and man power we use to build it," said Thiel.

However, it does cost some money to get the top contenders to compete in the event.

"The event is being supported by the community. I've secured a half a dozen sponsors. In years past KU Athletics have been very gracious, but they decided to go in a new direction this year, which is fine and I'm glad we could still make this happen," said Sanner.

As for the set-up, it looks like a lot of work, but after four years of practice, city officials said it's actually fairly easy.

"We'll start out about 6:00 a.m. on Friday morning and by noon we'll have the shot put field built. By 5:00 p.m. they'll be ready to throw the shot put, and then by 6:00 the next morning you won't even know we were there," said Thiel.

The event is this Friday, April 18, at the 8th and New Hampshire intersection. The shot put competition is scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m.

It's no secret, most people dread tax day. Many people will get a break from Uncle Sam using mortgage interest, real estate taxes and student loan interest. However, according to local certified financial planners, there are a few more tax breaks out there that many do not know about.

1. Save more money for retirement.

Lowering your paycheck by upping your retirement contributions might hurt right now, but in the long term that money is tax deductible and will also increase your savings.

"A nice feature on both events," said Peggy Johnson, a Certified Financial Planner with Ameriprise in Lawrence.

2. Give more money away.

"It's wonderful because it helps the organizations," said Johnson.

But donating cash to a charity is not the only option.

"It could be land, it could be a rental property, it could be a stock, it could be artwork. It could be those things that if you sold it, potentially you could pay a capital gains tax, the charity doesn't have to," said Johnson.

Johnson said gifting anything that is highly appreciated will be a benefit on tax day.

3. Become more energy efficient.

The federal government offers tax credits on things such as installing insulation, new windows or doors, a qualified heating and cooling systems, or solar panels. Not only could it reduce your monthly energy bill, but it could take some of the sting of taxes away.

"We get a nice little break ourselves," said Johnson.

However, before making any tax decisions, Johnson said make sure to talk with a financial advisor, broker, or accountant.

"Partner with someone who has some knowledge about these things and how they can benefit you," said Johnson.

If your taxes are not yet complete, you can file for a tax extension. In that instance tax returns would then be due on October 15th.

The new Lawrence Public Library is certainly something to marvel from the outside, but what about the inside? What can the people of Lawrence look forward to once the doors open?

"The insides of this building will really match the exterior. There will be increased technology. It will be a green building so it will reflect the priorities of this community," said Jeni Daley, with the Lawrence Public Library.

Daley said prominent features in the new building are the grand staircase and large atrium area that will allow natural light to shine into the library. Surrounding those two details will be glass artwork designed by Kansas City Artist Dierk Van Keppel and John Shreve.

"It brings a very progressive feel to this community, a very modern feel in terms of architecture," said Daley.

Then there's the size of the library, which Daley said will literally allow people's imaginations to run wild.

"There will be a recording studio where people can come in and record music, there will be some smaller creative suites, high powered software and computer to do some graphic design work, or to do some video editing," said Daley.

There will also be small and large conference rooms for people to reserve for things such as business meetings or study groups.

"One of the biggest parts of our library, the children will have their own programming space which is really fantastic," said Daley.

Previously, the children's section had to share library space with other sections for reading times and other events. However now, children will be able to enjoy books surrounded by color, fun, and a giant fish tank. Speaking of more room, Daley said the library is currently increasing the size of its book and media collection.

"It's expanding the opportunities and the resources that this community deserves," said Daley.

The new library will also include new technology to help sort, check-out and track books better. Daley said that will not only help employees, but those who stop by to check out or read a book or two. She said they hope to open the new Library sometime in late July to early August.
It puts the fun in fundraising for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Douglas County. The annual "Bowl For Kids' Sake" wraps up this weekend at Royal Crest Lanes.

The event is one of the biggest fundraisers for the organization and helps pay the fees associated with matching children in need in the community with a mentor also known as a big brother or big sister.

People in the community team up to raise money for the organization and at the end gather for bowling fun.

Stacie Schroeder, Director of Big Brothers Big Sister of Douglas County says she hopes to raise $40,000 through this year's event.

The event ends on Saturday and the teams that raise the most money will receive a prize.

Thursday, 10 April 2014 18:34

Construction slated for Naismith Drive

This summer the University of Kansas plans to reconstruct Naismith Drive from 15th Street to Crescent Road/Jayhawk Boulevard. The main focus of the construction is geometric improvements at the intersection of Naismith Drive and Crescent Road.

"With about 700 buses a day going through that intersection, that pavement is going to fail over time," said Jim Modig, an architect for the University of Kansas.

Another point of concern is pedestrian and vehicle safety.

"There are accidents that occur because of all of the stop signs that are there, and because through traffic is a left hand turn. There seems to be confusion at all hours of the day," said Modig.

According to records, in 2001 there was a motorcycle accident near Naismith and 19th Terrace. In 2007, two people were ejected from a car at the same intersection. In both instances the victims were air lifted to the hospital. In 2013, a pedestrian was hit on Naismith Drive near 23rd. Although those incidents are not exactly where the construction will take place, it shows why safety for pedestrians and vehicles on Naismith is a valid concern.

"We've been concerned for some time about the traffic on Crescent. It happens to be a main pedestrian way for students and it's become a cut through for people who want to avoid coming down Naismith and turning on 15th," said John Kelly, a Lawrence resident who lives on Crescent Road.

Some of the options on the table right now include limiting turning movements and vehicle access to Crescent Road from Naismith. Modig said there are no set plans as of now, but construction is expected to begin in the summer.

We now know the future of a downtown Lawrence mural in jeopardy due to the construction on 9th and New Hampshire, and as officials with the Spencer Museum of Art said, the future looks bright.

"I believe this is a very historic moment. It's historic because a university art museum, a thriving artist community, a community developer and a city are working together to adapt to change," said Saralyn Reece Hardy, Director of the Spencer Museum of Art.

A moment of relief for many in the art community at Tuesday night's Lawrence city commission meeting after representatives from First Management, Treanor Architects and the Spencer Museum of Art announced the Pollinators Mural will remain in downtown Lawrence.

"We have come to resolution and we have come to it together," said Hardy.

First Management and Treanor Architects are building a multi-story, mixed use building on the site where the Pollinators Mural currently stands. Originally, they offered the lead artist behind the mural, Dave Lowenstein, two blank canvases on their new building to recreate the mural. The current mural could not be incorporated into the new building.

"I also appreciate the willingness of the developer and architect to financially and logistically support the mural's continued life in the heart of downtown," said Lowenstein.

However, after some discussions on the future of the mural, they went back to the drawing board and redesigned the north side of the building with one canvas. That canvas will be, essentially, in the same location the current mural is. It will be much smaller, the original mural sits at roughly 1,300 square feet and the new mural will be about 600 square feet. And although the original artwork will be demolished, a new representation of the piece will be created, which many are satisfied with.

"It demonstrates beautifully how art can be woven into the fabric of our bustling downtown, helping to fully express what it means to be a Lawrencian and a Kansan," said Lowenstien.

There are still a few details to be worked out about the new mural, such as ownership, protection and upkeep once completed. The Spencer Museum of Art hopes to work out those details within the next week.

On Tuesday, Lawrence city commissioners toured the Rock Chalk Park facility. Construction continues and workers are in high gear as they prepare the facility to host its first event the Kansas Relays, which are set to take place April 16-19. But is the facility ready for the relays?

From the looks of it, the track is prepped and ready to go along with a few other items, but what about restrooms, lighting, parking? Tuesday night at City Hall, commissioners and city staff hoped to address those questions and a few others. Listed first on the agenda was to consider approving a temporary event permit for the Kansas Relays, despite unfinished construction at the facility.

"It is my job to make sure that it is safe for the public to attend the Relays and make sure that we've done everything to make sure it is safe at that location," said Mayor Mike Amyx during the commission meeting.

Also on the agenda was to approve a lighting plan for the facility, which was not set in stone when construction on the facility began and created some controversy with nearby neighbors.

Other agenda items included a request to allow vehicles to park on public streets near Rock Chalk Park, specifically on George Williams Way, Overland Drive and several residential streets north of Sixth Street. Commissioners also discussed and voted on a request to put up directional signs, approving a trail master plan from the multi-use trails around the facility. The only item that commissioners didn't approved was a request to rename the Rock Chalk Park Recreation Center to "SportsQuest." Commissioners will discuss the renaming at a different time.

It could create more jobs and better the economy in Lawrence and in the State of Kansas, a bill that awaits final approval in the legislature that would increase the production limit for microbreweries in Kansas.

"The good life includes good beer," said Chuck Magrel, Owner of Free State Brewing Company.

If you ask people in Lawrence where to get good beer, they may send you to Free State Brewing Company.

"Our focus forever will be local and quality," said Magrel.

Now, the Brewery has the opportunity to build on that focus. Kansas House Bill 2598 would raise the production limit for microbreweries in Kansas.

"More than not, legislation is involved with restriction and the fact that this is granting us some enhancement and expansion is a change, and it's certainly welcome," said Magrel

The current production cap sits at 15,000 barrels of beer per year.

"We're not to the cap right now but we will be in the next two years as things are going," said Magrel. "Really, for us, a lot of it is a growth process. We need to be able to plan the growth of our company for the next five years."

In those next five years Magrel said he hopes to stay local.

"As far as I'm concerned local means can I drive there and be back home today," said Magrel

Free State currently sells beer in Kansas, some areas of Missouri and Nebraska. By the end of the year people in Iowa will be able to enjoy a Free State brew as well.

"It's seen as an economic development opportunity. If we can grow our own breweries, then the jobs stay here. That employs people and that is good for our state and our community," said State Representative Tom Sloan.

"As far as we're concerned, without beer things don't seem to go as well," said Magrel.

Sloan said the bill passed in the House and Senate, but was assigned to a conference committee to agree on the correct language for the bill. He expects a final bill and vote by the end of April.

"There are a whole lot of people out there who's belief that they have the right to advocate for children, advocate for what's good for public schools, that belief will be chilled by this bill," said David Schauner, General Legal Counsel for the Kansas National Education Association.

That statement out of Topeka on Monday, the day after the house and senate passed a bill repaying the $129 million the Supreme Court said the state unconstitutionally withheld from poor school districts. However that bill also added one controversial education reform, it eliminated tenure for public school teachers in Kansas. Tenure isn't a job guarantee, but it does protect teachers from getting fired in certain situations.

"This is a major issue for our community," said Lawrence State Representative Tom Sloan.

Sloan voted against the bill along with House Representatives John Wilson, Barbara Ballard and Paul Davis. According to the Kansas Legislature, House Representatives Connie O'Brien and Willie Dove voted for the bill.

In the Senate, Senators Anthony Hensley, Marci Francisco, and Tom Holland all voted against the bill.

"Cutting back on essential services does not improve the quality of educational opportunity in our state. We just need to go into the reserves that we have, pay the bill and move forward," said Sloan.

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