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.
"Our nation has fallen behind on graduation rates," said Colby Wilson, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence.
"Our graduation rate in the United States is ranked 22nd out of 28 countries," said Nicole VanVelzen, Director of Marketing at the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence.
"We have youth obesity issues, there's a lot of juvenile crime issues that are going on," said Wilson.
"Some of the problems that are facing America's kids right now are pretty severe. This generation is the first one in history that is expected to do worse than their parents' generation," said VanVelzen.
The Boys & Girls club of Lawrence, along with other chapters across the nation, are trying to fight those odds.
"The Boys and Girls Club across the country can counteract all of these problems by empowering our kids to get on the road to success," said VanVelzen.
"We want kids to be prepared for their adult life. If that includes college, going into the military, or seeking employment after graduation, we know we've achieved our success when our kids graduate high school on time and they've got a clear picture of their future," said VanVelzen.
"We want people to know about the difference we're making in kids' lives. Yes, we provide after school care. Many people think of us as affordable daycare, but it's really about youth development," said Wilson.
Wilson said the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence serves 1,400 kids a day through 14 sites and a great partnership with Lawrence Public Schools.
For more information about the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence, click here.
"Because we're all together," said Kiera Snodgrass.
16-year-old Kiera Snodgrass has Down syndrome, something that would prevent many from participating in 4-H, but not Kiera.
"We help each other get ready, we practice with our goats together, we lead them around the ring together," said Amanda Snodgrass, Kiera's younger sister.
"She worked in the showmanship class last night. I thought personally she did a fabulous job, and came out with increased confidence. I mean everybody commented on it that she just walked out like, I did that!" said Denise Snodgrass, Kiera and Amanda's mother.
Together Kiera and Amanda make quite the pair at the fair. Just ask them if there is any competition between them.
"Well yes," laughed Kiera.
"Definitely, there's definitely always competition," laughed Amanda.
But there's nothing but love between them, especially when it comes to working together on their 4-H projects.
"It's a lot of work, it's a lot of blood sweat and tears but it's a lot of fun and you gain so much," said Amanda.
"They learn perseverance, they learn responsibility, and then it kind of comes together in the show ring. I've always told my girls even if they don't win, they've learned so much, and developed so much, and grown so much that I mean that's everything right there," said Denise.
For their mother, watching them show and grow together is very touching.
"Tearful to be honest with you, a little emotional," said Denise. "I cannot put a price tag on that. I cannot teach that in a classroom."
"The fire truck picked us up at our house, brought us to the fire station, we had dinner at the fire department," said Denise McCullough, Kurtis's mother, "How'd you feel excited?" Kurtis responded, "Happy."
Kurtis, or Kurt as he called, has an inoperable brain tumor.
"Kurt's been going through this now for over six and a half years," his mother said.
During that time spent at home, in hospitals, and at doctors' appointments Kurt fell in love with a few things. To name a few fire trucks, parades and a TV show and movie.
"He watches Gilligan's Island and Alvin and the Chipmunks Chipwrecked, that was filmed in Hawaii and is one of his favorite movies," said Denise.
So the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the City of Tonganoxie, and the Leavenworth County Fair stepped in.
"We're going to Hawaii," said Denise.
"A community member reached out to me and said the foundation had granted his wish and that this young man liked fire trucks, and he liked parades, and wondered if I might be able to help with some of that and I said 'absolutely,'" said Jason Ward, Mayor of Tonganoxie.
Just like that, a parade in his honor, a day on the job at the fire department, a big night at the county fair, and a trip to Hawaii, all for Kurt.
"It just warms my heart to know that people really care about him," said Denise.
"This family has been through an awful lot and Tonganoxie is such a tight-knit community. When folks here have things that happen to them we all feel it," said Ward.
"CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture," said Karen Pendelton, Owner of Pendelton's Country Market.
Basically, it's kind of like having a farmers market at your work. Sign up with a local farm, pay, and then once a week that farm will deliver a bag of goodies to you.
"Squash and mushrooms and lettuce. Sometimes there are berries and herbs," said Chris Tilden, Director of Community Health at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department.
The program has some big time benefits.
"Research shows that people who participate in CSAs generally have higher fruit and vegetable consumption which is why as a public health department, we're interested, because we know that eating more fruits and vegetables is a way to reduce the risk of chronic disease and to live a healthier life," said Tilden.
On top of that, CSA produce is generally less expensive than what you would buy in the grocery store.
"People are able to get good local food at an excellent price," said Pendleton.
The cost savings go beyond that.
"It may give you the opportunity to make one less trip to the store, use less gas and help the environment," said Tilden.
Plus it helps the local economy.
"It's promoting the development of local farms and really putting the money that's generated by these programs back into the local economy," said Tilden.
Just take it from Pendelton, who said without a CSA it could be difficult for her family run farm to stay alive.
"In the spring I'm not worried about how I'm going to get employees paid in the first part of the season when we are planting a lot of things but we don't really have anything for sale. Each year we have those start-up costs and it really takes a lot of the worry out of it for me on how we are going to pay for those startup costs," said Pendleton.
The Pendletons, Common Harvest, Rolling Prairie Alliance and Mellowfields Farm all have varying CSA programs. For more information contact the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department by clicking here.
If you have more trash than can fit in your trash cart, collection crews will collect them on your normal trash day, but keep packaging in mind.
"Make sure things are in boxes. If they are in boxes or bags, so we can easily get them to the trucks," said Craig Pruett, Operations Supervisor for the Lawrence Solid Waste Department.
Place those boxes and bags right beside your trash cart for collection. As for the big items such as sofas, chairs and dressers:
"We try to encourage you to donate those items," said Wyeth Atchinson, Waste Reduction and Recycling Specialist/Outreach and Education.
If they aren't in good condition, call the city.
"Request a bulk pick up if you have larger items that don't fit in containers," said Pruett.
Once scheduled, the items will be picked up on your next trash day. Place them about three feet away from your trash cart and not in the street or on sidewalks.
If you have chemicals to dispose of, such as cleaners, paint, fertilizers or other chemicals, they don't belong in the trash.
Schedule an appointment to drop them off at the Household Hazard Waste Facility. In case you worried about costs, don't be.
"You don't have to pay for those. So we try to encourage everybody to make sure to schedule those appointments," said Atchinson.
For more information on how to dispose of your trash, chemicals, and other items, click here.
16-year-old Fiona McAllister could be spending her summer at the lake, hanging with her friends, or just plain sleeping in, but that's not the case for the Free State Firebird. McAllister has three rescue dogs at home and a permanent soft spot in her heart for animals.
"I just think it's really rewarding to work with the animals," McAllister said. "Also I am interested in going into the medical field, so this is a way that I can get a lot of hands-on experience that I wouldn't be able to get."
McAllister is a part of the United Way's Summer of Service program, and for the second year in a row she's asked to work at the Lawrence Humane Society as a part of that program.
"I just think it's rewarding to be here. The things I do are little, but they add up. It allows Suzie and Dr. Stone to be able to do more important things," she said.
But like McAllister said, it's more than that, she loves animals, and hopes to one day work in the medical field. She said her time spent at the Humane Society is preparing her for that by watching animals get prepped for surgery.
"I volunteer at the hospital, but you don't get to do that kind of stuff. You don't get to touch the patients or anything," McAllister said.
But McAllister admits it's not exactly like caring for a human patient.
"I mean it's not very similar, but it's the same tools and the same kind of process almost," she said. "It's just a great experience because you can learn a lot of different things and get exposed to things that you wouldn't be exposed to normally.
And for all of those reasons, the only way McAllister can sum up her time spent at the Lawrence Humane Society is, "I just really love being here."
"I think it's going to shed a new light on why libraries are here to stay. It's not just the books. It's a gathering place," said Jane Golden, Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Lawrence Public Library.
This Saturday the new Lawrence Public Library will officially open to the public!
"Wow. I do think that's what everybody is going to say," said Golden.
This week crews have been busy putting the final pieces in place, but many say even with a few details left undone the new library is a thing of marvel.
"It's a really grand time to work here. It's an emotional time to work here. A lot of us have gotten teary eyed just seeing this place come together and seeing the support from the community. So we're ready to show it off and we're ready to open those doors," said Jeni Daley, Marketing Coordinator for the Lawrence Public Library.
What better way to welcome in the public than basically a big block party? Here's the run down. At 10:00 a.m. Saturday, things will begin with a ribbon cutting ceremony with Mayor Mike Amyx and city commissioners. That will be followed by a community book passing relay.
"More than 200 community members will line the streets at the old building on New Hampshire Street all the way to this new space at 707 Vermont and the will pass the last book all the way down the line until it gets to the door," said Daley.
The LHS band will serenade crowds and doors will officially open at 10:45 a.m. Then of course, a story time is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Then bust out your hula skirt for a Library Luau 2:00-4:00 p.m. and have some tasty treats, do a little dancing, and much much more. After that, spend 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at a dinner and movie with Downtown Lawrence. Several local businesses will have snacks and munchies for all to enjoy. The film to be shown up on the big screen on Vermont St. outside of the library's front doors, Ghostbusters!
"It's a grand day full of events and we're really excited," said Daley.
For more information on the schedule click here.
She's known as the Matriarch of the Red Cross in Douglas County.
"She's tiny but she's mighty and she is a force to be reckoned with," Executive Director for the Red Cross Chapter in Douglas County Jane Blocher said.
96-year-old Shirk has been volunteering her time with the organization for 50 years.
"I'll volunteer as long as I can move," laughed Shirk.
During those 50 years, Shirk has only missed two blood drives.
"She has made an enormous impact for our organization in Douglas County over the years. We are stronger and better because of her presence," said Blocher.
In honor of Margaret's service, the Red Cross threw her a party during a blood drive and presented her with a plaque celebrating her tremendous milestone, but that's not the only reason for celebration.
"97 on my birthday, which is just a few days," said Shirk.
On August 18 Margaret will turn 97. What does she want for her birthday? More people to donate blood. But she'd also love if others would get out and dedicate time to their communities.
"It makes you feel good. You just feel better when you volunteer," said Shirk.
Her fellow volunteers agree, especially when they get to work alongside Margaret.
"It inspires others to step up and do the same. There's something for everybody in Douglas County and we're just lucky that she chose us 50 years ago," said Blocher.
In response Shirk said "Oh I'm just glad to be of service to people and do something to help."
On Thursday, Malaysian Flight 17 was allegedly shot out of the air while traveling over Eastern Ukraine. All 298 passengers were killed. Instantly what's now being called an "informational war" began.
According to CNN, currently the Ukrainian government is accusing Moscow saying a Russian officer shot down the flight. Moscow denies the claims and says a Ukrainian jet fighter is to blame. Pro-Russian rebels have repeatedly denied responsibility for the attack. However, nearly everyone has expressed one thing.
"If violence can be avoided it should be avoided at any cost. And whoever engages in violence that could have been avoided should be held responsible," said KU professor Mariya Omelicheva.
Omelicheva is a Political Science professor at the University of Kansas and Director of the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies. She hopes Americans will dig deeper into what is going on.
"Somehow the facts that the civil war in Ukraine has already taken the lives of almost 400 citizens of Ukraine including dozens of children, these facts are escaping the news," said Omelicheva. "As citizens of a democratic society we should exercise our responsibility and ability to have access to information and practice our critical thinking skills."
Omelicheva said the battle between the Ukraine and Russia is not new and has roots throughout history, but she believes the human aspect of that history is often forgotten.
"We should pay attention to much more and be much more concerned with lives of people on the ground because often times their life stories, the tragedies they experienced gets overlooked," said Omelicheva.
The bodies from the crash along with the black boxes from the airplane were transported to a city in eastern Ukraine this week for further investigation and to hopefully answer some questions.
According to KidsandCars.org, a non-profit group in Kansas City, Missouri, an average of 38 children die every year from heat related deaths after being left in a motor vehicle. In 2013, 44 children died. The total so far in 2014: 17.
"It's really a serious problem and very few people who end up with heat injury ever return to completely normal," said Dr. Yockey.
Dr. Yockey put it this way:
"A long time ago there used to be an ad with a fried egg that said 'this is your brain on drugs,' that's actually incorrect. That's your body with heat," said Dr. Yockey.
But it's not just a dangerous situation for children.
"Heat injury to both children and adults is very serious," said Dr. Yockey.
Dr. Yockey said as adults, our bodies are built to cool down in warm situations. Normally, it would take more than an hour before sitting in a hot car could potentially be fatal. However, that is not always the case.
"It can happen less than that if you're taking medications, or you have some kind of medical problem," he said.
That time is much shorter for children.
"Children, of course, are more susceptible because they have smaller body areas, they have less fluid on board, and they can get in trouble faster than adults," said Dr. Yockey.
From Dr. Yockey's point of view, any amount of time at any temperature is a dangerous situation for children in vehicles.
"It's like giving a teenager whiskey and car keys, it doesn't make any sense. It's never a good idea to leave a child unattended, summer or winter, because you just don't know what's going to happen during that ten minutes," said Dr. Yockey.
Dr. Yockey said do not attempt to sit inside a warm car for even the slightest amount of time for any reason. Again, everyone will have a different reaction to the heat and it could be very dangerous.