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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.
"We have put out a request for qualifications from consulting firms that may be interested in helping the effort of cultural planning," Lawrence Assistant City Manager Diane Stoddard said.

Thanks to a $75,000 grant from the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission, the City of Lawrence is taking steps to complete a city-wide cultural plan. The grant will help get things rolling on the new plan and will focus and fund three main things.

"$25,000 of it goes to the first year salary of the Director of Arts and Culture. A third of it will go to actually hiring a consultant for the cultural planning effort. The last third of the grant go toward creative marketing tools that will be used toward the cultural plan effort," said Stoddard.

The city is currently awaiting applications from interested firms. Firms have until September 26 to apply. However, it will not solely be in the hands of the firm. As its current name suggests, it is a city-wide cultural plan. Along with city officials, including the newly hired Director of Arts and Culture, Stoddard said the city will seek public input on the matter.

"We're looking to the entire community for that. You know, what are our cultural assets and how should we best be using them. What are some strategies to utilize them better." said Stoddard.

Stoddard said any questions can be directed to her. She can be reached via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Men: are you looking to volunteer, but not quite sure where or how? Well Big Brothers Big Sisters of Douglas County could use your help.

According to Area Director Stacie Schroeder, of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Douglas County, the organization has 150 boys total, and 92 of them are currently on a waitlist.

"We are looking for lots of men, any age," Schroeder said. "We're just looking for someone to spend a couple hours a week with a child."

Schroeder said the need for male volunteers is a national trend. Men just aren't signing up to be Big Brothers, and in Lawrence the need is great.

"The kids in our program are children that are facing adversity in our community and that can mean a lot of different things, but generally what they need the most is just a consistent adult in their life to spend time with them doing things that they both enjoy," said Schroeder.

Schroeder said just a couple of hours every week can make a big difference in a child's life. Activities in the community or in the school setting help with learning and growth, as well as social and emotional skills. And for the volunteers, Schroeder said it's just as rewarding.

"Our volunteers feel just like they have the same amount of benefit," she said. "You grow to love the time that you spend with your Little Brother or your Little Sister."

An East Lawrence visual arts and music studio is about to open the doors to its new building with a big bang, SeedCo Harvest, an arts and music festival highlighting the new SeedCo Studio space and its resident artists.

"We all have a common goal of creating culture here in Lawrence and taking the arts as far as we can take them. It's always strength in numbers you know so it's great to have 20 visual artists and anywhere up to 30 people playing in bands. There's a lot of energy there and that's kind of our mission, just create," said Erock Johanssen, SeedCo resident artist.

That's exactly what will happen at SeedCo Studio's new creative laboratory in the Warehouse Arts District in East Lawrence.

"Creative people working with all kinds of mediums and space to realize their visions and realize their ideas, and be supported and you know collaborate," said Jesse Gray, a SeedCo resident artist.

While continuing SeedCo's original vision, resident artists said the new space will also bring a re-birth to the studio.

"I think we're just trying to engage people and bring more awareness that there's culture going on on the east side, it doesn't stop at downtown," said Gray.

What better way to do that than with SeedCo Harvest, an art and music festival.

"Just to, kind of, highlight the new space that we have. We've been at the other space for two years. We've had a lot of people come through and a lot of public support, but now that we're moving we want to raise awareness to that. It's kind of our grand opening, we want everybody to come out and see what SeedCo's next step and the progression is," said Johanssen.

The festival is not just about the studio and its artists. Money raised from the event will benefit two Lawrence non-profits, Healthy Sprouts and VanGo, Inc. SeedCo Harvest is set to take place September 13 at the Warehouse Arts District in the 800 block of Delaware. Tickets are $8.00 pre-sale, $10.00 at the door. Children five and under are free.

The festival will include eight live bands, 21 visual artists from SeedCo Studios and Fresh Produce Arts Collective, and 16 local food, retail, beer and activity vendors. Vendors include: The Merc, 715, Drasko's, Ingredient Five Bar and Tables, Mass St Soda, Arizona Trading Company, Third Planet, Mad Greek, Scone Lady's, Burger Stand, Cosmos Indian Store & Café. Free State Brewing Company will also be featured at the festival.

The Lawrence community gathered Thursday night at St. Luke African Methodist Episcopal Church. A vigil was held for 18 year old Michael Brown, the young man shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Together those in attendance prayed, sang, and hoped for change. Below is a glimpse at what those who spoke during the vigil had to say.

For some kids, school just isn't fun. But a teacher at Southwest Middle School has kids paying attention in class with his singing and even rapping.

Chris Orlando is an eighth grade U.S. History, and Model United Nations teacher at Southwest Middle School in Lawrence. Every day his students look forward to his singing. His reason for busting a rhyme or humming a tune?

"Fun. I mean that's very simple, but the bottom line is if it's fun then the kids will be engaged and my number one goal is to engage as many kids as I can," said Orlando.

According to Orlando, these kids can't help but learn while sitting in his class. Not only do they learn about U.S. History and current social events, but Orlando said they also improve their critical thinking skills.

It's chugging down the tracks, but just a little slower than originally planned. The restoration and renovation of the Santa Fe Depot in East Lawrence is still on its way.

"It's really almost a three party agreement. There's a lot of complexities with it. There's a lot of leases in addition to the land transaction itself. We had originally thought that the project would go out to bid in the fall, but we worked with the Kansas Department of Transportation and we're going to put that off a bit," said Diane Stoddard, Assistant City Manager.

Stoddard said right now things have slowed somewhat because of the complexity of the ownership and use of the building.

"We have been working on the acquisition of the Santa Fe Station with the BNSF Railway. They're the owner of the station. Also Amtrak operates out of the station as folks know. So we also have to work with Amtrak to make sure they're okay with the transfer of the property to the city," said Stoddard.

The Depot was built in the 1950's and Stoddard said much hasn't changed since that time.

"The building really needs to be improved from an ADA standpoint, an accessibility standpoint. But also just kind of put a shine on the building. It's a lovely example of mid-century modern architecture and making sure that that is preserved into the future for people who want to enjoy it," said Stoddard.

The total cost of the project is expected to be about $1.5 million. About 80 percent of that will be covered by a $1.2 million federal transportation grant the city was awarded in 2013.

Stoddard said the building will continue to be used as a station for Amtrak and Burlington Northern will still have an office in the building. Amtrak recently invested about $1.5 million in the station to improve its boarding platform.

For the past seven years it's been a topic of discussion in the city, a development called "The Links at Lawrence". It's a nearly 900-unit apartment complex and a golf course set to be built near the northeast corner of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway.

Over the years several versions of plans for the project have landed on the city commission agenda. Tuesday night the latest development plan, including 44 buildings with 842 dwelling units, and a 9 hole golf course, which could also be used for a new twist on the game called foot golf, sat on the agenda. Lawrence commissioners approved development plans for the project 5-0, but only after asking questions about a wooded area on located on the proposed development site that is considered environmentally sensitive.

"I guess there's a red bellied snake on this land. If in the future some of this land wanted to be developed, could it possibly be developed?" questioned Lawrence Commissioner Terry Riordan.

Commissioners weren't the only ones with concerns.

"Have they worked with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks on their plan?" questioned Senator Marci Francisco.

"We have addressed the state. The state's happy with it," answered a representative for Lindsey Management Co., Inc., the planning firm behind the project.

The developing company assured everyone that regulations would prevent any development on the environmentally sensitive land, unless approved by a future city commission. Company representatives also said ideally construction on the first phase of the project would begin in Spring 2016.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission also approved a plan for the project last month.

On Tuesday the University of Kansas Office of Multicultural Affairs hosted an open forum at Spooner Hall to allow students, staff, and faculty to discuss recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, including the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Jameelah Jones, a second year grad student at KU, attended the event.

"I think it's really important to be able to have a safe space for people to really come together and express how they're feeling without feeling judged and without feeling challenged in any type of way," she said.

Once the discussions began we weren't allowed inside with a camera, but were able to follow along on Twitter. Those in attendance used #FergusonKU to live tweet during the conversation.

Twitter user @JaneATuttle tweeted "Every day we make a decision to be engaged or to be a bystander. Be engaged in your community. Step Up!"

Twitter user @__tPARIS tweeted "Really, Really, Really GOOD things being said at the forum right now."

Jones also sent out a tweet, "What are the brave things we all can do? Have conversations with people who don't agree with you."

After the meeting Jones told us she is thankful for the university for hosting the discussion.

"Really taking steps to address issues of inequality, racial tension, and police brutality. I think it's really good for people to come together to discuss things like this," said Jones.

On Thursday, a vigil will be held for Michael Brown at St. Luke African Methodist Episcopal Church at 7:30 pm. All are invited to attend.

It's called the "Ninth Street Corridor Project" and it's aimed at revamping Ninth Street from the Warehouse Arts District to downtown Lawrence, making the popular section of East Lawrence into a complete street.

"This means that there are bike lanes, there are easy to walk on sidewalks. It means multimodal means of transportation, so pushing a stroller, a wheel chair, just walking down the street is easy. It means the street will be well lit. There'll be places to sit, places to put bikes. It will be the connector from the warehouse Arts District and far east 9th street to downtown Lawrence," said Susan Tate, CEO at the Lawrence Arts Center.

With those ideals, comes another focus for the project.

"It's a place where people live. There is a church on the 9th street corridor, there is an elementary school on the 9th street corridor, there are artist studios on the 9th street corridor, there are homes. It should retain its character, while supporting public art that's created as a part of the project and art in the future," said Tate.

Monday night city officials gathered, along with members of the Lawrence Arts Center, to discuss one of the beginning phases of the project, publication of an RFQ or Request for Qualifications. An RFQ would allow urban design teams and engineering firms to begin submitting their ideas for the project. However some at the meeting were concerned with moving forward on this early project piece. Some feeling left out of the process that is supposed to be community driven.

"Community involvement is going to be really important," said Eric Kirkendall, Director of Lawrence Creates Makerspace.

"People want more than input, we want to be full participants," said KT Walsh, with the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association.

"We just want to be a part of it you know, and everything," said Brenda Nunez, an East Lawrence Resident.

Project coordinators assure that community involvement remains a top priority.

"We're committed to a community driven process. It's extremely important that the Ninth Street Corridor retain its walkable, human scale, environment," said Tate.

Officials said they hope to release the RFQ by September 2, 2014. The Ninth Street Project is possible thanks to a $500,000 ArtPlace Grant, along with support from the City of Lawrence and the Lawrence Arts Center.

"It was recommended to me by my supervisor at the time as a good agency with solid leadership," said Lynette Good.

Lynette Good is a volunteer at GaDuGi SafeCenter. She is an advocate for victims of sexual violence.

"It's a way of showing that you care about people around you," said Good.

During the day, Good is a Secretary in the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's office. Monday through Friday she commutes to the capitol for her job. But in the evenings, during her time away from work, she responds to the GaDuGi SafeCenter 24 hour hotline and is an advocate for victims sent to the hospital during sexual assault cases.

"We're there for them. We're supposed to be moral support," Good said. "It's really great knowing that that's comforting to them, that somebody is there and somebody cares. They really do appreciate it."

Good said knowing she is helping those who are truly in need is one of the reasons why even on her busiest of work days she's still prepared to advocate for victims of sexual assault.

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