Archive for Tuesday, December 30, 2003

A review of 2003

December 30, 2003


Dave Bennett enters the new year as Tonganoxie's new, full-time fire chief. Bennett was named the new fire department head at a Dec. 23 city council meeting. Bennett replaced Butch Rodgers, who had been appointed seven months earlier as a part-time interim chief. Rodgers, who also is the city's public works director, replaced longtime chief Charlie Conrad. The former chief held the position for 16 years, but was replaced after unrest developed within the department. A year earlier, some firefighters asked Conrad to resign, but he refused. A mediator was appointed to handle the situation, but no agreements were reached and the council eventually replaced Conrad with Rodgers.

Jerry Newberry and his family planned to rebuild on their property at 20780 Honeycreek where a fire destroyed their home two days before Christmas. When the fire broke out, four family members -- a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren -- were asleep, but all survived the blaze.

Haley Hansen, an eighth-grader at Tonganoxie Junior High School, became Tonganoxie's first female wrestler. At the urging of friends who already were on the team, Hansen joined the team and made history at the same time.

Tonganoxie High School Chieftain Marching Band captured four trophies and five plaques, including the coveted sweepstakes award, at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn. As sweepstakes winner, the Chieftains were the top overall band at the event. Tonganoxie also qualified to be part of the halftime show. THS even played two songs with country music artist Clint Black at halftime. The Liberty Bowl pitted Texas Christian University against Colorado State University.

According to the Kansas Department of Revenue, Tonganoxie's 2002 sales increased 6.8 percent from 2001, while the county's increase was at 3.9 percent.

Ted Anton, a Tonganoxie resident, retired after serving 21 years with the Air National Guard. Military service is a family tradition for the Antons. Ted's father, George, was an Air Force pilot. Ted's sister, Penny Marshall, is in the Air Force and works in intelligence at the space command center. Ted's brother, Eric, served 11 years in the Air Force.

Architects told Tonganoxie school board members that school district facilities were close to capacity. The districted hired on a contingency basis the Overland Park DLR Group to assess the school district's buildings and illustrate plans for construction and renovation.

Shad and Kristy Vermeesch's future home five miles northwest of Tonganoxie was a month away from completion when a fire broke out. When firefighters arrived on scene, only one wall of the 3,000-square-foot, two-story house was standing. A heater likely was the cause of the fire. The family planned to build their "dream house" again once the fire investigation was complete.

An influenza bug kept 14.5 percent of the Tonganoxie school district out of school during two days. Of 776 students who attend Tonganoxie Elementary School, 134 were absent. Tonganoxie Junior High School had 35 of 380 students absent on one day. And at the high school, 50 of the school's 364 students were absent that same day.

Mayor John Franiuk did not seek re-election and two incumbent council members -- Cami Zimmerman and Pat Albert -- did not run for their seats. Mayoral candidates were Ron Kampfer, Herb Robbins and David Taylor. City council candidates filing were Tammy Bartels, Jonathon Boone, Ron Cranor, Velda Roberts, Lois Seelbinder and James Truesdell. School board candidates were W. Brian Daily, April Dohle, Rick Lamb, Joel Stinson, Leana Leslie, Ron Moore, Kris Grinter, Kay Smith, Wally Brawner and Richard Dean.

Tonganoxie wrestler Garrett Palmer set a new takedown record for a season during the Randy Starcher Memorial Invitational in Tonganoxie. Palmer had 63 takedowns on the season by the end of the tournament, surpassing Mike Andrew's mark of 59 set in 2000-01.

The Tonganoxie High School debate team swept the Kansas State High School Activities Association state meet and was crowned state champions for yet another year.

A Leavenworth County Sheriff's deputy shot a pit bull north of Tonganoxie after it bit a man. The incident prompted Sheriff Herb Nye to push for establishing vicious-dog guidelines.

The Amanna Elan Hotel had another remodeling job on its hands when a vehicle lost control in the snow and hit a support beam. The original beam was destroyed during the previous summer when another vehicle had crashed into it.

By a 997-695 vote, the Basehor-Linwood school district bond issue failed in a special election. The bond issue had a $30 million price tag.

Atchison snapped Eudora's two-year reign as Tonganoxie Invitational Tournament champions with a 64-40 loss. Starters Tyler Cleveland and Kaleb Niedens didn't play for EHS because of illness. Tonganoxie placed fourth in the tournament after losing another heartbreaker to Lansing in overtime, 57-49. The Chieftains lost to LHS a week before in overtime by a 74-72 score.


Plans for a new retail center were unveiled. The new center at the northwest corner of U.S. Highway 24-40 and Main Street includes a video rental store, a Dollar General and a coin-operated laundry. It opened in the fall.

Basehor school officials decided they would ask patrons to again vote on a bond issue. After suffering a defeat on the $30 million bond issue in January, officials said they wanted patrons to vote again on April 1.

Call-ups to military duty continued, as Tonganoxie High School's wrestling coach Jeremy Goebel was activated with his National Guard unit. He and his fiancee, Lisa Borg, moved up their wedding plans. Goebel also is physical education teacher at Tonganoxie Elementary School.

Tonganoxie Phil, better-known as Dr. Philip Stevens, predicted an early end to winter. For several years, on Groundhog Day, Stevens has predicted the local weather for the upcoming six months. This year, Punxsutawney Phil, a Pennsylvania groundhog saw his shadow, meaning winter would last another six weeks.

A Tonganoxie couple planned a special celebration on Valentine's Day. Keyta Kelly planned to give her husband, Michael, one of her kidneys. "It's going to improve the quality of his life so much that we are looking forward to it," Keyta said several days before the successful operation.

Tonganoxie High School basketball players decided to help others, as they volunteered at a food kitchen in Kansas City, Kan. The girls and boys teams served between 250 and 300 people.

McLouth restaurateurs threw a party to honor the academic work of five young people. Karen and Butch Barlett, owners of Barlett's Fried Chicken and Catering, threw a surprise party for five students who work at the restaurant, while also landing a spot on the school honor roll. The students are Matt Conchola, Tyler Smith, Justin Smith, Bri Ann Smith and Katie Lewis.

McLouth girls basketball player Courtney Edmonds scored her 1,000th point. The senior's milestone came during a 54-33 loss on Feb. 7 to Pleasant Ridge.

It was a close one. In the primary election race for Tonganoxie mayor, city council and school board, votes were close for the final city council candidate. In early counting, Mike Weston and Jim Truesdell each had 80 votes. After provisional ballots were counted, Truesdell moved ahead of Weston. City council candidates moving forward to the general election in April were: Truesdell, Ron Cranor, Lois Seelbinder and Velda Roberts. Mayoral candidates progressing to the general election were Herb Robbins and Dave Taylor. And school board candidates for position No. 1 moving forward were Rick Lamb and Joel Stinson.

Glen Smith determined it's time for a change. The owner of Glen's Opry in downtown Tonganoxie said he planned to sell the business to Annie and Terry Dunivan, who live in Eudora. The Dunavins said they'd dreamed for several years about owning an opry.

Tonganoxie wrestler Chuck Riddle ensured a trip to state tournament, along with Ross Starcher, Matt Weyer, Garrett Palmer, James Hatshorn and Andrew Miller.

County officials announced that the total valuation of commercial and residential property climbed by nearly 13 percent -- to $2,791,634,460.


Rusty and Laura Felty worked toward additional health-care funding for their daughter, Tesla, who was born four months premature in January 2001. Tesla weighed one pound at birth.

A fire at Stockman Trucking in Basehor caused between $100,000 and $150,000 in damages.

Tonganoxie High wrestlers wore hats with "Army" across the front to honor their coach, Jeremy Goebel, at the state tournament in Wichita. Goebel was on active duty in the Army reserves and had to miss both the regional and state meets.

Tonganoxie High senior James Hartshorn became the fifth Chieftain wrestler in school history to place in the top six at the state meet in the 2003 tournament. Hartshorn placed sixth in the 215-pound division in Class 4A at the Kansas Coliseum in Wichita.

The Tonganoxie school board approved the district hiring a bond consultant to guide USD 464 through a bond election. With Superintendent Richard Erickson's recommendation, the board chose the George K. Baum Company.

Atchison ended the Tonganoxie girls basketball season with a 44-35 win in a Class 4A substate quarterfinal in Tonganoxie. The Chieftains defeated Atchison early in the season, but AHS returned the favor in the postseason. The boys also lost in the first round of substate to Lansing.

With a war against Iraq looming, many local servicemen and women were called to active duty overseas and on the homefront. Local churches started prayer chains and held a prayer vigil. The war left Tonganoxie police without Chief Ken Carpenter and fellow full-time officer Brian Daily. The department appointed officers to interim positions in their absences.

Tonganoxie held its annual St. Patrick's Day parade along Fourth Street in downtown Tonganoxie. Bo Himpel was named the parade's Grand Leprechaun.

Kaw Valley League teams Immaculata and Lansing advanced to their respective state tournaments in boys basketball, but both lost in the quarterfinals.

Addie Heim was named to the all-Kaw Valley League first team in basketball. Heim was a sophomore for the Chieftains, who finished the season 10-11.

The Tonganoxie Striders Running Club hit the streets often in 2003. With 20 members, workouts range from walk-jogs to 5.5-mile runs. Some members also competed in the Lincoln All-Sports Half-Marathon on the University of Nebraska campus.

Russian pharmacists visited Right Choice Pharmacy in Tonganoxie. Through the Center for Citizens Initiatives in San Francisco, 10 Russians toured the company located in the Urban Hess Business Center. The group toured numerous other health-related companies in the area.

Representatives of the Kansas Kickapoo Tribe and Sac and Fox nation lobbied for a casino and hotel resort on 80 acres northwest of Kansas Speedway. The tribes selected a Kansas City, Mo., construction firm to build the $175 million facility if the state approves it.

Uncertainty with the war in Iraq likely affected the number of bids the city of Tonganoxie received for its new sewage treatment facility, according to Pat Cox of BG Consultants, the city's engineering firm. Both bids were about $1.2 million higher than the city's estimated price tag of $2,866,739.

With a 90-10 mix of fescue and bluegrass, LeRoy Seifert reseeded Beatty Field and Chieftain Field.

Community National Bank broke ground for its 16,000-square-foot building at 158th Street and U.S. Highway 24-40 in Basehor, while First State Bank and Trust officials said they plan to eventually leave the bank's current site at 155th Street and U.S. Highway 24-40 for a new site across the highway to the south.


About 500 area residents gathered in downtown Tonganoxie with a large yellow ribbon to show support for troops serving in the Middle East.

Tonganoxie voters elected Dave Taylor as mayor. Newly elected council members were Ron Cranor and Velda Roberts. School board incumbents Rick Lamb, Ron Moore, Kay Smith and Richard Dean retained their positions and Leana Leslie was a new member elected to the board.

Tonganoxie High School students conducted an "Evening of Jazz" concert which included prime music entertainment as well as dancing by those who attended.

The Tonganoxie school district was looking at possible construction plans that could range from about $11.6 million to $17.8 million.

Across the county grass fires, fueled by high winds, kept area firefighters on the go.

The total valuation of commercial and residential property in Leavenworth County increased by nearly 13 percent from a year ago.

Author Don Coldsmith was a guest lecturer at Tonganoxie Junior High School. Coldsmith, a Kansas historian, is the grandfather of two Tonganoxie students, Heather and Zach Young.

Paula Prosser, a Tonganoxie ninth-grader, sang on the national television show, Star Search. Paula is the daughter of Susie and Buzz Prosser.

Four area women who are in the ministry were featured in a front page story. The women are, Claudia Bakely, Alice Purvis, Claudia Ricks Hubbard and Peachez Joles.

Children at Genesis Christian Academy made Easter cards to send to service men and women in the Middle East.

Former mayor John Franiuk said he was determined to help build a skate park for Tonganoxie's youth.

The city of Tonganoxie, still dealing with drought, continued to enforce an odd-even watering system.

Darlyn and Anna Hansen officially opened their bed and breakfast, the Amanna Ãlan. The structure formerly was known as the Almeda Hotel, and before that, the Myers Hotel.

Tonganoxie High School students celebrated Prom at The Woodlands.

Near Kansas Speedway in western Wyandotte County, construction of the T-Bones baseball stadium was taking shape.

A front-page feature story by Lawrence Journal-World senior editor Bill Snead focused on Dr. Phil Stevens, a Tonganoxie physician since 1955. Pictured with Dr. Stevens were local residents including Danielle Irwin, Walter Lee Denholm and "The Good Doctor's" wife, Betty Stevens.

For their Earth Day celebration, students at Tonganoxie Elementary School planted trees and flowers in the Liz Cronemeyer outdoor classroom. Liz Cronemeyer was a long-time elementary school teacher in Tonganoxie.

Tonganoxie first-graders were pictured carrying boxes to the post office, to be mailed to men and women in the service.

Weekend vandals at the Leavenworth County State Fishing Lake struck one of the shelter houses, leaving a gaping hole in the front of a fireplace.

The Tonganoxie Civic Club planned its sixth annual golf tournament, set for Village Greens Golf Course in Ozawkie, for April 26.

The fifth annual McLouth Patriots' Day celebration drew a large crowd. One of the weekend's highlights was a refurbished carousel brought from Leavenworth. A parade, patriotic costumes, foods and crafts filled out the weekend.

Karen Daniels, who had worked at Tonganoxie City Hall for more than 30 years, retired. Her co-workers and fellow citizens said she would be missed at City Hall.

The Good Shepherd Thrift Shop held a luncheon to thank its volunteers. Entertainment was provided by the elementary school's Cool Kids Choir.

Parents who participated in the national Take Your Child to Work Day included Kathy Bard, assistant to the city administrator. Her daughter, Danielle, 13, spent the day working with her mother at City Hall.

Members of the Tonganoxie City Council approved the annexation of 27 acres. Greg Ward, one of the owners of the property, planned to develop the area for townhomes for empty nesters.


A May 4 tornado demolished five homes southeast of Tonganoxie. The tornado, rated as an F-2, caused structural losses of an estimated $1.2 million. The tornado also ripped a swath through western Wyandotte County.

A farmer's market opened in the former Tonganoxie railroad depot, organized by Thad and Monica Rose. The market would be open through the spring and summer on Saturday mornings.

Renovation of the intersection of U.S. Highway 24-40 and Kansas Highway 16, done by Meadows Construction, was complete. The project provides an inviting street view on the west entrance of Tonganoxie.

Tonganoxie High School students performed a hit performance of the musical, The Wizard of Oz.

The Tonganoxie school board approved the purchase of two modular classrooms to be installed at Tonganoxie Elementary School. It was hoped this would be enough to accommodate what appears to be a continuing enrollment increase in the district. The grade school currently had about 800 students and was one of the largest schools in Kansas.

U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun, R-Kansas, toured the tornado-stricken areas of the county with officials from FEMA.

Tonganoxie City Council members rejected two bids for construction of a wastewater treatment plant because the bids were too high.

Leavenworth County undersheriff Dave Zoellner said the county was continuing to investigate leads into the 1988 disappearance of Linwood teen Randy Leach. Leach last was seen in April 1988 at a large, late-night party southeast of Linwood.

Tonganoxie High School's forensics team took sweepstakes at the recent 4A state tournament.

At the May 17th graduation, 117 seniors graduated from Tonganoxie High School. Speakers included valedictorian Andrew Becker, salutatorian Kelly Woelk, and Janelle McCoy, who had taped road maps and spoons to the graduates' chairs. She told her classmates that the spoon would remind them to taste all there is of life, and that the roadmap would always be there to show them the road back to Tonganoxie.

During commencement exercises, local scholarships totaling more than $30,000 were awarded to students.

Lawrence Memorial Hospital announced a physician had been chosen to staff the new clinic in Tonganoxie.

Dr. William Weatherford, a 32-year-old Johnson County native, said he was eager to return to a small-town atmosphere. Weatherford is a 2000 graduate of the University of Kansas Medical Center. He grew up in Stanley.

Plans were announced for the resurfacing of two highways in the county -- U.S. Highway 24-40 between Tonganoxie and Lawrence, and Kansas Highway 32 between Bonner Springs and U.S. 24-40. Work was slated to occur from about July 4 through Labor Day.

Jacob Walker set a new record for Tonganoxie High School, and captured the Kaw Valley League title at a Basehor-Linwood High School meet with a triple jump of 43 feet, 4 1/4 inches. Walker surpassed Micah Bray's 1996 record of 43-1.

Jennifer Reischman, Andrew Miller and Katie Jeannin were named to top athletic honors by coaches and letter club members at Tonganoxie High School. Kyle Norris also was recognized.

"Hero Hawk," a Jayhawk which is part of the "Jayhawks on Parade" project in Lawrence, was being built in a barn northwest of Tonganoxie. Mike Davis, who lives near Tonganoxie, and Tim Bishop, who work for Hallmark, had taken on the project for Hallmark. The men modified their Jayhawk so it had a cape and shield and stood on a mountain.

Jackie Himpel, a parent educator with Parents as Teachers, was named one of the top five parent educators in the nation. Himpel has worked in the field for 13 years.

Tonganoxie band instructor Charles VanMiddlesworth announced plans for a second annual July community band concert and ice cream social.

A Kansas City firm, Cohen-Esrey Development, announced plans to build a 24-unit low-income housing complex in Tonganoxie for residents age 55 and older.

Members of the Tonganoxie Parent Teacher Association planned to have new equipment installed at the grade school playground in summer.

Happy Helpers 4-H Club organized a county-wide project to send 754 boxes to Kansas National Guard troops stationed in Bosnia. The youths, as well as other 4-H'ers and volunteers of all ages, held an all-night event at the fairgrounds to get the work done.


An anthropology team from Kansas State University led by Brad Logan spent two weeks excavating a site near Tonganoxie. Local resident Scott DeMaranville had first noted the site after flooding that occurred several years ago. DeMaranville has collected artifacts for years at sites in the Tonganoxie area. The site excavated by the K-State group was estimated at being 700 years old.

The Tonganoxie City Council planned to discuss the possibility of having Sunday liquor sales at liquor stores in Tonganoxie. Several area cities, including Leavenworth, Bonner Springs and Basehor, have recently considered the issue after voters in Wyandotte County approved such a measure.

The Home School Connection choir, made up of home-schooled students, performed a musical show for families and friends at Victory Baptist Church.

Former director of Tonganoxie Public Library, Beckie Borella, was charged in Leavenworth County District Court with one county of felony misuse of public funds.

The Tonganoxie Community Historical Society planned a June 14 ribbon-cutting ceremony for the site's newly renovated museum and dairy barn. Members had worked on the barn for more than three years. They had transformed the former milking area into a museum that is an attribute to the community.

Tonganoxie teen Joey Glenn participated June 13 in the Colgate Country Showdown in Nevada, Mo. The talented singer is a 15-year-old student at Tonganoxie High School.

Heroic Hawk was pictured flying on the back of a flatbed truck as its creators took him to Lawrence. The bronze-painted jayhawk would be displayed at the Lawrence Hallmark plant as part of "Jayhawks on Parade."

The city prepared for the chamber-sponsored Tonganoxie Days celebration. Events included a 10K and 5K run, an auction, a car and motorcycle show, children's games, the opening of the Tonganoxie Historic Site's new museum and barn, a ceremony at VFW Park and more.

Tonganoxie teens Colby Craig and Devin Hughey performed in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

Annie and Terry Dunavin have purchased Glen's Opry in downtown Tonganoxie. The Eudora couple plan to rename it as Annie's Country Jubilee."

Norman Walker, a gravel hauler for 53 years, is known as "the Michaelangelo of gravel laying," said a local customer. Walker, who was 75, said he planned to continue working as long as he can.

Doc and Brutie's restaurant in Basehor has reopened. The business which formerly was located in a mall at the intersection of U.S. Highway 24-20 and 155th Street, has moved to downtown Basehor. George Mills and Dennis Hougham are co-owners of the restaurant.

Jay Thorne, a member of the 129th U.S. Army Reserve Transportation Company that left April 28 for Kuwait, returned home on special leave for the birth of his first child by Cesarean section. Lexi Marie was born June 12 at St. John Hospital in Leavenworth to Amy and Jay Thorne.

Russian bankers Gennady Mescheryakow and Andrei Babin spent two weeks in Tonganoxie learning about the U.S. banking system at First State Bank and Trust.

The dairy business in Tonganoxie was following a nationwide trend of hard work and low financial gains. At the Holton Dairy, brothers Kevin, Kerry and Terrence work from 15 to 18 hours a day -- all year long. Dairy prices are selling for about 45 percent less than they should be, the brothers say.

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