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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.
Three names appear on the ballot in the race to lead Kansas in the United States House of Representatives District 2.

Incumbent Republican and former CPA Lynn Jenkins.

"Now more than every Kansas needs real solutions. Solutions to help create jobs, build a healthy economy and help hard working families take home more of their pay," said Jenkins.

Democratic challenger Margie Wakefield, a family law attorney from Lawrence.

"I believe that the gridlock and the dysfunction in Washington isn't working for us and it won't work for our children's future," said Wakefield.

And Libertarian Christopher Clemmons, a 7th grade physical science teacher in Kansas City, Kansas.

"I've watched as I've grown up, slowly but surely, our constitutional rights being taken away," said Clemmons.

The Affordable Care Act is one of the biggest issues the candidates have been discussing in the race.

"Personally, I don't think Obamacare is working and I've voted to repeal it, but I've also proposed ideas to get to the heart of the problem. Letting patients choose the plans they want, the doctors they need, and the cost they can afford," said Jenkins.

"We cannot go back to the old system. Where we had preexisting conditions and people were denied care. Where there were lifetime caps put on people who had chronic illnesses. Is it (Affordable Care Act) a perfect law? No, but we've got to work together to find constructive solutions," said Wakefield.

"With me it's very simple. This particular policy is unconstitutional. It forces every single American to pay for something that they don't necessarily want. What I would like to focus on is trying to come up with more solutions where we allow Americans more choice in their healthcare," said Clemmons.

Another issue that could make a difference in votes for the candidates here in Kansas is the recently passed Farm Bill.

Here's a quick glimpse on their stances on the bill.

"You don't learn agriculture by a briefer or listening to the democrats complaints. How you learn agriculture is you live it and you breathe it and then you go and fight for it," said Jenkins.

"Even though it (the Farm Bill) wasn't perfect for them (farmers), they knew that they needed it and even Farm Bureau was for it," said Wakefield.

"Our failed government policies are destroying agriculture in our state. We're losing our soil resources, we're losing our water resources because of failed policies," said Clemmons."

Excitement was high, music was loud, and the smiles were wide Thursday night at Free State High School.

"I'm performing for Lights On," said Lamarcquez Lee, a Woodlawn Elementary student.

"It's a big deal because almost all the schools are here," said Jackson Simon, a Langston Hughes Elementary student.

"I was really excited," said Nicole Lett, a Sunflower Elementary student.

It was all a part of Lights On After School, a national celebration organized by the After School Alliance. Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence members around the country celebrate the Lights On movement in different ways, but here in Lawrence the fun takes center stage.

"Each year the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence does a talent show highlighting the talents at all 14 of our sites. It's a fun night," said Nicole Van Velzen, Director of Marketing at the Boys & Girls Club.

Thursday night more than 300 youngsters from all over Lawrence performed in the Lights On Talent Show.

"I'm going to be dancing," said Lee.

"Well I love to sing so, I'm even in my schools choir," said Lett.

"We're mostly just dancing and a little bit of lip syncing," said Simon.

"It's really just a night of celebration for us," said Van Velzen.

The 2015 Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence Youth of the Year candidates were also introduced during the program. Three lucky performances from the talent show will also perform at the Youth of the Year celebration in February, which Van Velzen said only adds to the exhilirations of the night.

"It's fun to get all the kids together. You know they're from 14 sites so they very rarely get to see each other. Just the energy. They get so excited about their songs, their costumes. It's just really fun to see them get so excited about what they're able to do together," said Van Velzen.

The Lawrence event was one of more than 8,000 Lights On After School events that will take place across the country. Besides having a ball, the Boys & Girls Club members who participate in the event help raise awareness about the importance of afterschool programs in the lives of children, families and communities. According to the Boys & Girls Club, one in five students in the United States today is unsupervised after the school day end, which emphasizes the need to sustain and increase the availability of afterschool programs.

For more information on the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence, click here.
 
Many Lawrence residents are excited about the new Lawrence Recycles curbside pickup option. But what happens to all that cardboard and plastic after it's picked up?

"Basically a single stream means that all of the recyclables are placed in one cart and it's all mixed up," said Kathy Richardson, City of Lawrence Solid Waste Division.

The recyclables are sorted at Hamm Inc.'s Material Recovery Facility just outside of North Lawrence.

"This facility is the facility that will sort through all of those materials and separate out the paper, they'll separate out all of the different grades of plastics, as well as separating out aluminum and steel and all those products. And they will bale those products and sell the material from here," said Richardson.

This week city officials and others spent time learning how the facility works.

"With the amount of material that we see on a weekly basis that's not going to the landfill now, this is something that we should all be proud of and recognize as something that is very important," said Mike Amyx, Mayor of Lawrence.

The 43,000-square-foot facility processes about 10 tons of recycled materials per hour. In the first week of collection, just east of Kasold, the city collected 190 tons of recyclable materials. Officials expect that number to drop to somewhere around 100 tons in the next few weeks. Richardson said given that most people had their recycling carts for about a month prior to collection the numbers will be higher at first.

On a different note, the sorting facility also created six new jobs in Lawrence.

For more information about the City of Lawrence Recycling Program, click here.

Pending the results of the November general election, Lawrence Commissioners intend to sell landto help offset costs related to the proposed $28 million police headquarters.

Tuesday night commissioners voted unanimously that if the sales tax increase is passed by votersand the city spends $2.25 million to buy the Hallmark property located on McDonald Driveto build a new police facility, the city will look to sell portions of that property as well as other city properties to help with costs.

The new police building would only use 15 acresof the 47 acres the city would have to buyto purchase the Hallmark land.

Previously some questioned the current commissions intent to sell off un-needed Hallmark land after discussions about giving a portion of the land to the Boys & Girls Club to build a new teen center. 

With the 5-0 vote Tuesday night, commissioners hoped to erase that doubt.

"Anything that we can make as clear and concise as we possibly can you know helps with the education process and I think you know this does that," said Mayor Mike Amyx, " There can't be a question of the intent of the governing body."

With the approval of the sales tax referendum and the purchase of the Hallmark property, the city will also look to sell the current Investigations and Training Center for the Lawrence Police Department at Bob Billings Parkway and Wakarusa Drive, as well as the city's share of the Judicial Law Enforcement Building.

Looking to fill the seat left empty by Democratic candidate for Governor Paul Davis, the Kansas House of Representatives 46th District race comes down to Democratic candidate Dennis "Boog" Highberger and Republican candidate Doug Robinson.

"I'm really distressed about the direction our state has taken over the last four years. I think there have been some disastrous policies that have been implemented. I want to do what I can do to help turn those around," said Highberger.

"I'm of the opinion that there's a lot of deadwood that needs to be cut, that we don't need 16 feet of law books for one little state like Kansas. I think we can simplify," said Robinson.

Besides differences in party affiliations, the candidates hold different ideals in mind.

Highberger said he is looking to address current issues.

"Education, education, education. I'm facetious but education really is the top priority. I'm also concerned about restoring fairness to our tax system and I really, really hope we can make progress on expanding Medicare to help insure hundreds of thousands of uninsured Kansans," said Highberger.

Robinson said his concerns are more philosophical and centered on the workings of government.

"We're supposed to have a balance of power between the three branches of government. We're supposed to check each other. I think we need to find ways to push back against the Kansas Supreme Court and not just do whatever they say. We've come to a point that we have so many laws, so many regulations, that they become irrelevant just because of the sheer volume of them. And I think we can do a lot better than that. We can simplify, clarify, and make law more accessible to the average person," said Robinson.

Highberger believes his experience will garner votes.

"Any democrat in the Kansas House, in order to get anything done, is going to have to work across the aisle. I think my experience with city commission, I think anyone who works there knows that I can do that. I've got a track record of working across the aisle to get positive things accomplished," said Highberger.

Robinson said he feels cultural beliefs, rather than political, are on his side and the way Kansas can shine on a national stage.

"What we have as a strength here in Kansas is that we have a group of people, a population, that basically is a lot of fine folks. And there's a lot of fair play, and there's a lot of honesty, and there's a lot of courtesy, there's a lot of kindness and a lot of compassion in Kansas. That's what's missing in some of those west and east coast communities. And that counts a great deal and I think Kansas can set the tone and set an example for the wider nation in those very positive ways," said Robinson.

Highberger defeated Abbie Hodgson in the August 5 Democratic Primary. Robinson was unopposed in the Republican Primary.

They help many people get the medications they need, but they're more than just the people behind the pharmacy counter.

"October is Pharmacist Month. It's all about celebrating our profession and letting people know why it is that we're so important in the community," said Jen Farmer, a KU student pharmacist.

However, Farmer said the importance is something that is often overlooked.

"Our profession doesn't really get a lot of credit. A lot of people think that we just clearly stand behind the counter and that's really not true we do a lot more," said Kara Bergman, University of Kansas School of Pharmacy.

First and foremost...

"We ensure your medication safety and we improve your overall general health," said Bergman.

The work of a pharmacist goes beyond just filling prescriptions.

"Pharmacists can provide flu vaccines, shingles vaccines, we can also do medication therapy management, which is where we can basically look over a patients profile, check for drug interactions, make sure you're on the proper medication based on individual need and really discuss your overall health goals," said Farmer.

When it comes to medications, Bergman said there is no one better to talk to than a pharmacist.

"Doctors do know quite a bit about the medication, but that's why we go to school is to learn all about the medications, to know their side effects, and how to take them," said Bergman.

If you do have a question about your prescription, you can just drop on by.

"You don't need an appointment to come and see us at all," said Bergman.

At the end of the day, Bergman said pharmacist have one goal.

"We're here to help out," said Bergman.

Bergman also adds that you shouldn't stop going to the doctor and instead rely only on a pharmacist. She said when it comes to your health, it's a group effort. Pharmacists collaborate with doctors and nurses to improve your general health.

"What We've Become" is a local film featuring local talent. Those behind and in-front of the camera hope the film not only tells the story written in the script, but also the story of Lawrence as great place to make movies.

"Jennifer Nelson wrote a very powerful family drama about two sisters and their journey to find each other again here, back in Kansas. One of the sisters comes back to help her sister from a heroine world of drug addiction. I think it's a film that ultimately brings us to a place of hope, hope of redemption and reconciliation," said Christie Dobson, a producer of the film "What We've Become".

"For our audiences, certainly for anybody who's ever dealt with addiction themselves or has a family or friends whose gone through that, I think it's going to speak beautifully to that journey and the difficulty and the way you have to keep hope alive" said Diana Dresser, the actress who portrays Stephanie in the film, "I think people who have never gone through that I think that they're just really going to enjoy the story because it's a really interesting rich complex story with really beautiful characters."

But for those on the set. The film is also about something a little more, something beyond the script.

"We are really really grateful to our local community for supporting this film and all of our film-making endeavors here in town. Having the support of the Lawrence Community behind us just makes all the difference in the world," said Dobson.

"It's been magical and very very cool and I hope that what we're feeling about it right now will translate to the audience. And just to be here in Lawrence and to see what that not only is it known as an artistic community, but now it is becoming known as a town to make films in, I hope that this furthers that, " said Dresser.

The film will now be edited at Through A Glass Productions here in Lawrence. Within the next year Dobson said it will be sent and hopefully screened at festivals throughout the country. A local screening will also be planned. However, before that can happen Dobson said a fundraiser will be held to help finish the film. To find out more about the film or to pitch in to help, click here.

 

The serious nature of sports related concussions has heightened over the years. Using new equipment, Lawrence Memorial Hospital is working to make sure concussions are diagnosed, treated and healed properly.

"The ball was in the air. I jumped up for the ball. Then next thing I know I'm on the ground looking up at the trainers," said Bret Folks, a Sophomore at Eudora High School.

Folks is a member of the Eudora Soccer team and in the middle of a game when he collided with another player which led to an ambulance ride to Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

"The EMTs asked me questions. They asked me who the president was and I said 18 and not Barack Obama," said Folks.

Folks was diagnosed with a concussion through a new tool at LMH.

"Impact Screening is something our physicians use here at LMH to diagnose concussions as well as help with that big question return to play," said Adam Rolf, Physical Therapist and Athletic Trainer at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

With the new technology some schools in the area require young athletes to take a baseline test every couple of years.

"The baseline component looks at how the brain is operating when you are healthy." said Rolf.

Then if a concussion were to occur, doctors compare the results from the baseline test with a new post-concussion test.

"The results of that test let us know if your brain operating normally, do we have the same reaction time, do we have the same short term memory, things that we want to see what the brain is doing before we go back and possibly get hit again," said Rolf.

Basically it's a brain physical pre and post concussion. Rolf said it not only helps patients but it also aides doctors immensely.

"Physicians can be much more confident in that return to play decision and say hey you're ready to go, let's get you back out there with your athletic trainer, go to the return to play protocol," said Rolf.

Folks said Impact Screening is the reason he was able to return to the game that he loves. He said he is appreciative that his school system and LMH had him take the baseline test prior to his concussion so he could heel properly and get back on the field.

"The doctors and staff were very very helpful. They were very nice. I just want to thank them for that," said Folks.

Rolf said Impact testing started at the University of Pittsburgh in 1995. Since that time the testing method has spread to numerous hospitals and is also used in the NHL, NFL, and NCAA.

 

It started as a general idea. There are people who need rides and there are drivers with empty seats in their vehicles.

With that Jenny O'Brien set out on a project she called Lawrence OnBoard. The method goes like this, riders sign up and receive a small, portable dry erase board with a marker and their rider identification attached to it. Riders then write the name of their destination on the board, stand in a safe area where cars may pass-by, and hold out the sign. Drivers signed up and vetted through the program can then pull over and offer rides.

After collecting research and finding that people in the Lawrence community would indeed use the program, O'Brien shared the idea on the national stage as a finalist for the TEDxFulbright Social Innovation Challenge. It was around this time that the company CarmaHop became interested in the work. With that Lawrence OnBoard became CarmaHop.

With a new name and a new venture, CarmaHop expanded to include a smartphone app. The app is now available at the iPhone App Store and Google Play, just search for CarmaHop. That also led to access to another app, a carpooling app that CarmaHop previously launched. O'Brien said the carpool app allows people who may need a ride to Kansas City or Topeka to find others going that way. But it also does a little something more. O'Brien said it also has an electronic bank so that those in the carpool can also help pay for gas.

Flash forward to today, and O'Brien is excited to announce that the full fledged CarmaHop road-side ride-sharing program is ready to launch in Lawrence. O'Brien said people will soon be seen in the community with CarmaHop signs looking to catch a ride, and she hopes it inspires others to download the app and join in. Those in the community who have worked with O'Brien collecting research for the program are just as excited that it is finally here. Nearly all said it is a great way to lend a helping hand, cut down on car emissions, and in all better the community.

To find out more about CarmaHop, click here to visit the website.
 
Supporting fair trade and Lawrence seem to go hand in hand. The Lawrence community has met all the qualifications to become a certified fair trade town, it just needs a proclamation from the city to make it official.

"One of the things we do here at Ten Thousand Villages, we carry products from local organizations like Project Lydia and Awava. Project Lydia works with a group in Uganda. They started out with I believe six women and now they employee 65 women. When they started they had zero kids in school, now they have over 600 kids in school. Some of the women are building their own houses. It's really empowered these women and it's changed their entire community," said Scott Stutler, manager at Ten Thousand Villages Lawrence, 835 Massachusetts Street.

According to Fair Trade Campaigns, Lawrence would be the first city in the state to receive the fair trade town designation. According to the website, there are 35 fair trade towns in the United States, the first being Media, Pennsylvania in 2006.

Stutler said fair trade is something that has been part of the community's identity for a long time.

"Because people really believe in fair trade and they understand the importance of what fair trade does for the people in these really impoverished communities and developing countries," said Stutler.

Now, thanks the efforts of Stutler and a what he calls a wonderful supporting cast, Lawrence will finally get the recognition for its dedication to fair trade and will be certified as a fair trade town.

"For me it was acknowledging what already exists here in town," said Stutler.

To be designated a fair trade town, based on size and population, at least 17 stores in Lawrence have to offer two or more fair trade options to customers. Walking down Massachusetts Street alone, Lawrence meets that qualification. There are a few other calculations to it, but as Stutler said, Lawrence easily surpassed all of them.

"It's been really exciting to work on this. People in this town are so passionate about fair trade. When we pay attention to something like poverty in a developing country, we have the ability to make an impact right here in Kansas," said Stutler.

To achieve the designation, there has to be a team to lead the certification, the team has to work with local retailers to offer the fair trade products, the community must have a certain number of community organizations using or serving fair trade products, the team must show how local action can deliver life changing benefits to farmers and artisans, and the local government has to pass a fair trade resolution.

Stutler said Lawrence met all qualifications to be designated a fair trade town within a year. Overland Park has been working on the designation for more than two years and has yet to achieve it. There aren't any fair trade cities in Missouri or Nebraska. Lawrence city commissioners do have to pass a proclamation to approve the designation and make it official.

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