Archive for Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Year in review

The year 2005 filled with many memories

December 28, 2005

As we enter the final days of 2005, it seems appropriate to look back at a year filled with a wide variety of news stories and many heart-warming events.
We've combed the files of The Mirror and what follows is a review of the first six months of 2005. In next week's edition, we'll conclude our review.

January
As the year opened, state lawmakers and school officials were reacting to a Kansas Supreme Court ruling that ordered the state to increase school funding. The court said the state Legislature had failed to provide suitable provisions for financing public schools. The high court gave lawmakers until mid-April to devise a solution that would address the funding problem. While Tonganoxie school Superintendent Richard Erickson said he was pleased with the state Supreme Court decision, state Rep. Kenny Wilk, R-Lansing, criticized the court's April deadline. "I find it somewhat interesting that the Supreme Court with seven members has wrestled with this issue for nearly eight months now, and they're now giving 165 of us four months to figure out a solution. I don't know how realistic that is," Wilk said.
School Superintendent Richard Erickson had more than school finance on his mind as January opened. He also had weather to contend with, and the superintendent called school off early on Jan. 4 as the first storm of the new year headed toward Tonganoxie. Erickson also canceled classes on Jan. 5 and 6 as a winter ice storm hammered on the area.
Neighbors to the east in Basehor mourned the death of a young firefighter, who was killed in a two-vehicle traffic accident as he responded to another accident. Jared Moore, 19, was killed Dec. 29, 2004, north of Basehor. Friends, family and co-workers gathered on Jan. 3 for a memorial service for the fallen volunteer firefighter.
Tonganoxie High School's Marching Chieftains were back in town, following an end-of-the year trip to the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.
Two Tonganoxie men joined county government in January, as Ron Cranor was chosen undersheriff by newly elected Sheriff Dave Zoellner and Dean Oroke was sworn in as a new county commissioner.
Dr. Bill and Karlye Weatherford won The Mirror's first-baby contest for 2005. Karlye Weatherford delivered the couple's second baby, Caleb, on Jan. 3. He joined a brother, William, nearly 2.
Preparations were under way for the Randy Starcher Memorial Tournament, an annual wrestling tournament held in Tonganoxie. The event -- formerly known as the Tonganoxie Invitational Tournament -- is dedicated to the memory of Randy Starcher, a THS student who was killed in an automobile accident. The Chieftains came in fifth in the tournament, which was won by Baldwin. A high point for THS, though, was a win by Ross Starcher, a cousin of Randy Starcher. "It was a must-win situation. I wanted to do it for my family and everyone else." Ross Starcher said.
Candidates begin to file for openings on the Tonganoxie City Council and the local school board, before the deadline at the end of the month.
Russ Kimberlin was presented the Tonganoxie Chamber of Commerce's Citizen of the Year award for his many volunteer hours, as well as his work with the Tonganoxie Recreation Commission.
Casey's General Stores discussed plans to construct a new store one block north of the existing store at U.S. Highway 24-40 and Kansas Highway 16.
A local high school student -- Joey Glenn -- headed to Nashville, where she planned to record songs for Wild Oats Records. The THS junior had signed a contract with Wild Oats, following a week she and her mother had spent in Nashville. Joey is the daughter of Judy and Jim Glenn.
The 46th annual Tonganoxie Invitational Basketball Tournament tipped off. And the Tonganoxie girls team won their side of the annual tourney, with a one-point victory over Silver Lake. On the boys side of the five-day tournament, Atchison took home the winners trophy. And Tonganoxie lost the game for fifth place against Lansing.
For Tonganoxie native Angela Lenahan, a trip to Stein Mart, an Overland Park store, provided more than she had anticipated. In a display at the store, Lenahan spied a familiar piece of luggage -- one that had belonged to her mother, Jean Lenahan, who died three years earlier. Although it took some time, Stein Mart officials agreed Angela could have the small piece of luggage that bore her mother's initials.
Talk about an interchange along the Kansas Turnpike surfaced among Leavenworth County Commissioners, who were trying to decide whether to ask voters to approve an extension of the county's half-cent sales tax for another 10 years. The tax initially was instituted to finance construction of the Judicial Center in Leavenworth. Now, county commissioners would like to use some of the future sales tax proceeds to construct or upgrade a road connecting the turnpike interchange with Kansas Highway 32 and U.S. Highway 24-40.
The slate of candidates for the city council and school board were set -- with a last-minute filing by incumbent council member Steve Gumm. Gumm joined four other candidates for three open seats: Jim Truesdell, Jason Ward, Bob Nickle and Cecil Vinyard. Less interest was expressed for the school board, as three incumbents and one challenger filed for three open seats: incumbent Darlyn Hansen for position No. 4; Kay Smith for position No. 5; and incumbent Bob DeHoff and challenger Brian Huseman for position No. 6.
For the eighth consecutive year, Tonganoxie debaters brought home a first-place trophy from the state meet.
Tonganoxie Junior High School Principal Steve Woolf cooked up Super Bowl recipes on "Jayni's Kitchen," a cooking show that airs on Sunflower Broadband channel 6.
The owner of the Linwood Cafe said it was time to move from her tiny quarters on Main Street in Linwood and construct a new, larger restaurant. The new restaurant was planned for Kansas Highway 32, on the east side of Linwood.

February
A family of five trumpeter swans visited Bear Lake in southern Leavenworth County. At least one of the swans also had stopped at Bear Lake in 2004. The swans were part of Iowa's swan restoration project, a biologist at the Trumpeter Swan Society said.
First State Bank plans a new building in Basehor. The new structure on the south side of U.S. Highway 24-40 will replace First State's existing building on the north side of the highway.
Tonganoxie doctors reported they had plenty of patients who were complaining of respiratory problems. And the physicians said they believed they'd seen several cases of influenza.
Ken Carpenter again traded his Army uniform for the Tonganoxie police chief uniform. Carpenter completed his second tour of duty in Iraq. Most recently, he worked in security at a prison in Baghdad. Police Sgt. John Putthoff said he was able to stay in touch with Carpenter via e-mail and telephone.
Tonganoxie Phil -- Dr. Phil Stevens posing as a weather forecaster on Groundhog Day -- predicted winter would make a quick exit. For several years now, the local physician has played the role of Tonganoxie Phil, the local answer to Punxsutawney Phil, a Pennsylvania groundhog used to predict whether spring will arrive early or late. Groundhog day is Feb. 2.
Tonganoxie and Basehor-Linwood baseball players now are selling tickets to the Kansas City-Cleveland afternoon game, which will be followed by a game between the two Leavenworth County teams. The schools receive a portion of the revenue from ticket sales for the April 19 event.
Mike Yanez, serving as Eudora city administrator, was chosen as Tonganoxie's new city administrator. He was chosen from among 27 applicants to replace Shane Krull, who left Tonganoxie for his native Miami County, where he became county administrator. Tonganoxie Mayor Dave Taylor said he was pleased with the choice of Yanez. "Besides his knowledge of being a city administrator, I like the idea that he won't just sit behind his desk," Taylor said. "He'll get out and meet the people and be part of the community."
After years of rumors, the U.S. Postal Service made it official: The local post office is looking for a larger home, either a newly constructed building or a refurbished existing building.
The community was pulling together to provide support to the Pat Albert family. Albert, a girls softball coach and Tonganoxie auto mechanics teacher, suffered a mid-brain hemorrhage four weeks earlier.
Plans are under way for the annual St. Patrick's Day parade.
For a second consecutive year, The Mirror newspaper was named best in the nation in its circulation category by Inland Press Foundation of Chicago. The Mirror also won the award that recognizes work at non-daily newspapers in 2004 and 2001.
The Kansas Department of Transportation soon will launch a study of U.S. Highway 24-40 between Basehor and Tonganoxie, in an effort to ensure traffic moves smoothly through the eight-mile stretch in the future. "If we did nothing, when those developments were built out, it would add 20 minutes of travel time between Basehor and Tonganoxie, said Leavenworth County Commissioner Dean Oroke. "That may be 20 or 30 years down the line, but we've got to do something now to eliminate that problem in the future."
Three Tonganoxie High school wrestlers are bound for the state tournament: Ross Starcher, Hunter Samuels and Garrett Palmer. Starcher took second place at state.
The Tonganoxie girls basketball team, meanwhile, clinched its second straight league title.
The city's $4.2 million wastewater treatment plan was nearly ready to go online. Workers were completing numerous last-minute details at the plant.

March
The Kansas Department of Transportation closed the road over the dam at Leavenworth County State Fishing Lake west of Tonganoxie. A soil slide occurred on the back side of the dam, and the road was closed as a precaution.
Property values in Leavenworth County were up. According to the county appraiser's office, residential property was up 10.1 percent from 2004, while commercial property valuations increased an average of 9 percent from a year earlier. The overall percentage increase for county property was 10.5 percent. "It never ceases to amaze us what things sell for," said Donna Graf, Leavenworth County appraiser.
A Lansing man has been awarded the purple heart, after losing part of his leg in an explosion in Iraq, where he served as a sergeant in the U.S. Army.
Hunter Samuels, a Tonganoxie High School senior, has been named a member of the Lawrence Journal-World's Academic All-Star team. Levi Huseman had been nominated for the honor, as had two McLouth High School seniors -- twins Erin and Hallie Watson.
Tonganoxie graduate Nancy Milleret knows what it's like to be part of history. Milleret, a 2002 THS graduate, served on mission control during Steve Fossett's record-breaking solo non-stop around-the-world flight. The 67-hour trek started and ended at Salina Municipal Airport, where Milleret and three other Kansas State University students, worked at mission control.
Well-wishers turned out in downtown Tonganoxie, as members of the THS girls basketball team left for the state tournament in Salina. The Chieftains were at 21-2 on the season as they headed for their first state matchup against Royal Valley. The girls ultimately took fourth at state, falling to Buhler in overtime. But the girls finished the season higher than any other Tonganoxie girls team -- at 22-4 -- and posted more wins than any other Chieftain team.
Tonganoxie city and Stranger Township firefighters have begun preliminary talks about how merging the two departments could be beneficial.
Drama students at Tonganoxie High staged "The Philadelphia Story."
The committee working on Tonganoxie Days 2005 is hopeful an Air Force flyover will come to fruition.
Two area archaeological dig sites have been named to the National Register of Historic Places. The two sites are along Stranger Creek in Leavenworth County.
A highway patrol report revealed that a Leavenworth County sheriff's deputy was confused about where to turn as he was headed to an injury accident. The deputy's patrol car collided in December with a private vehicle driven by volunteer firefighter Jared Moore, and the impact killed Moore. Both men were responding to the same accident.
Local voters were preparing to head to the polls, to vote in the city council and school board races, as well as decide whether to extend the county's half-cent sales tax for another 10 years.
Kansas University junior and Tonganoxie native Rachel Saunders was making last-minute preparations for the Miss USA pageant. Saunders was crowned Miss Kansas USA at the state tournament late in 2004, and now she's heading off to the national pageant, held in April in Baltimore, Md. Saunders did not make it to the finals of this year's pageant in April.
Both young and old turned out for the Tonganoxie Recreation Commission's annual Easter egg hunt. The event, though, included much more than an egg hunt. It also featured a petting zoo, moon walk, visits with firefighters and law enforcement officers and an Easter bunny photo op.

April
The voters have spoken. Leavenworth County voters approved extension of the countywide half-cent sales tax for another 10 years. The Judicial Center in Leavenworth was financed using proceeds from the sales tax, and now county officials would like to use tax proceeds for road projects, including roads to a proposed interchange along the Kansas Turnpike. The tax money also will be used to improve the road and bridges along Leavenworth County Road 5, Leavenworth County Road 8 (Fairmount Road), between Kansas Highway 7 and County Road 5, along with other road projects and improvements to the communications system for local emergency responders. In addition, Tonganoxie voters elected three city council members: incumbent Steve Gumm and newcomers Jim Truesdell and Jason Ward. And in the school board's lone race, incumbent Bob DeHoff defeated challenger Brian Huseman.
Tonganoxie Elementary School Principal Jerry Daskoski was true to his word. The principal had promised he'd dress up as a Barbie doll -- and assistant principal Tammie George would dress as a Ken doll -- if school children successfully completed a fund-raiser to help pay for the purchase of a rock wall in the school gym for use by physical education students. The students delivered. And so did their principals. While George dressed her part, Daskoski was the clear show-stopper in his prom dress, bond wig and tiara.
Meadows Construction, a family-operated business in Tonganoxie, is under new ownership. Larry and Lois Meadows sold their firm to Mike and Lisa Reischman.
The road over the dam at the state lake will remain closed until repairs to the back side of the dam can be completed. Concerns about the effects of erosion prompted the decision to close the road at the lake, which is west of Tonganoxie.
First State Bank and Trust recently renovated about 3,000 square feet in downtown Tonganoxie, where it will move office workers. The site is just east of another building the bank owns, the former Ratliff Drug Store, at the northeast corner of Fourth and Bury.
The annual alumni banquet is a month away, and organizers announce that one of Tonganoxie's own is returning to provide entertainment. Kathleen LaGue, a singer, songwriter, actress and model who lives in Los Angeles, graduated from THS in 1980. She is slated to perform at this year's annual alumni banquet, which always is held the Saturday of Mother's Day weekend.
Tonganoxie Elementary School Principal Jerry Daskoski told school board members that this fall the size of the kindergarten class likely would set a record.
A project to replace the Kansas Highway 32 bridge over Stranger Creek means traffic will be down to one lane for the duration of the work. Plans called for it to wrap up in six to seven months. The $3.12 million project means traffic will be regulated by stop lights.
Mike Yanez, Tonganoxie's new city administrator, is on the job. And he's been meeting lots of local residents and business people, along with city staff members. In other city news, new council members Jason Ward and Jim Truesdell took their seats. Incumbent Steve Gumm was re-elected to his seat, and his new term has begun, too.
In Basehor, library officials issued a ban against a 41-year-old Basehor man, who was charged in municipal court with one count of lewd and lascivious behavior, stemming from an account a woman gave police. The woman said the man had been fondling himself while at a computer in the library.
The Mirror newspaper staff won six first-place honors in the 2005 Best of Kansas Newspapers contest, sponsored by Kansas Press Association. The three-person staff also won six second-place honors, seven third-place awards and six honorable mentions. Caroline Trowbridge, editor and publisher of The Mirror, also was elected first vice president of the statewide press group.
THS students danced the night away during the 2005 edition of the school prom, held at the Frontier Ballroom at Fort Leavenworth.
The county's planning director resigned, effective in late April. John Zoellner would say little about his resignation from the job he's held for about 7 1/2 years.
A trial has been scheduled in front of a Leavenworth County District Court jury for a sheriff's deputy charged in an accident that killed a volunteer firefighter from Basehor. Deputy Robert Peterman is charged with vehicular homicide in the death of 19-year-old Jared Moore.
The THS girls track team crashed through records at the Eudora Invitational.
The Rev. Rick Lamb and his wife, Becky, are leaving Tonganoxie for Texas. Lamb, pastor at West Haven Baptist Church and a member of the Tonganoxie, school board, will become pastor at Northside Baptist Church in Corsicana, Texas. Becky Lamb teaches at the elementary school.
County officials are finding eBay a lucrative spot to sell pieces from the old county jail. They're selling anything from inmates' cells to rolling pins.
New City Administrator Mike Yanez officially was welcomed to Tonganoxie with a reception at city hall.
Tonganoxie Junior High School thespians stated "James and the Giant Peach."
The Tonganoxie and Basehor-Linwood baseball teams faced off at Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals. Basehor-Linwood won the Kaw Valley League game, 6-1.

May
Construction was slated to start soon on a new housing development targeted at low-income elderly residents. The development, called Sundance Apartments, is being constructed by Cohen Esrey of Kansas City, Mo. The project will include 24 units in fourplexes and duplexes at the north end of Stone Creek residential subdivision.
Another county department head is leaving. Gary Ditty, county public works director, left the job after he and county commissioners failed to negotiate a work agreement for the coming year. The county planning director's job also is open.
John Bretthauer, a student at Kansas City Kansas Community College, is a national winner. Bretthauer's debate squad swept national debate championships. "Having a huge family kind of helps, being socialized in the family," Bretthauer said, noting his mother was one of nine children and his father one of eight. "And growing up in a small town makes you friendlier -- being nice is a big part of debate."
A national group that promotes biosciences honored state Rep. Kenny Wilk, R-Lansing, for his commitment to the advancement of the burgeoning industry.
A debate's under way on who should pay for infrastructure upgrades near the new middle school -- the city or the school district. Among the improvements will be a new water tower.
The former Bitler restaurant is being torn down to make way for a new Casey's General Store.
The annual alumni banquet drew about 116 alumni and their guests.
Nearly 120 seniors graduated from Tonganoxie High School during ceremonies at Beatty Field. And about 45 McLouth High seniors graduated at the school's stadium.
Jake McGhee, a member of the THS Class of 2005, has earned a U.S. Air Force ROTC scholarship.
Tonganoxie High School forensics students snagged a state championship. This was the school's second state championship win. And since 1997, the team has finished in the top three at state in every year except one.
Riley Davis, a 10-year-old home-schooled student, is a winner. Riley won the national Block-Kids Design competition, which required him to build something from Legos. Riley opted to construct a solar and wind power plant to produce electricity for a residential neighborhood.
The local Veterans of Foreign Wars post has honored local students who won the annual Voice of Democracy essay contest.
The city has been awarded a federal grant to help construct a pedestrian and bicycle trail leading from downtown to local parks. The trail, estimated to cost about $430,000, will run along the east side of Main Street, from Fourth Street to Chieftain Park.
First State Bank and Trust has been honored for its community service. The Tonganoxie-based bank was honored as the first recipient of the Federal home Loan Bank of Topeka's Community Leader Award.
Several Tonganoxie High track team members are heading to state. Ali Pistora took bronze in the javelin, while the boys 4x800 team finished fourth.

June
The city was gearing up for the annual Tonganoxie Days festival, held the second Saturday in June each year. This year, however, rain dampened the 20th annual event. But many folks turned out once the rains stopped in the afternoon.
Tonganoxie Junior High science teacher David Wahlgren was packing his bags for a trip to Sweden, where he planned to run in a marathon.
Local firefighters rescued a 15-year-old boy who plunged into a rain-swollen creek. Brian Eveland was riding his bicycle through VFW Park when he approached a low-water bridge at Tonganoxie Creek. The normally quiet creek had been transformed into a raging river, and Eveland ended up in the creek. Luckily, a local firefighter heard his calls for help.
Leavenworth County commissioners took a stand against a notorious sexual predator, who was staying in a home in the southern portion of the county. Commissioners gained a temporary restraining order to prevent Leroy Hendricks from living in the home, saying the residence was not properly zoned. Hendricks, who had stayed at the home for several days, was moved out. The man has a 50-year history of molesting children.
Tonganoxie school Superintendent Richard Erickson applauded a Kansas Supreme Court ruling that ordered the state to double funding for public schools.
The local tae kwon do academy scored several gold medals in sparring at a recent tournament. "We were blessed this time," teacher Rex Hutton said.
Tonganoxie's soccer coach for the past two years -- Luke Denney -- has resigned. During his tenure at THS, Denney's record was 12-20-2.
Rain gauges during the first 13 days of June showed 8.37 inches of moisture. That compares with about 11.35 inches for the previous five months of the year.
The U.S. Postal Service has narrowed its search for a new site to four tracts. Three sites are on U.S. Highway 24-40 -- or a short distance from the highway. And the fourth is a few blocks east of the fire station.
The Tonganoxie Community Band was slated to perform its annual concert on June 28. The all-volunteer band is under the direction of Charles VanMiddlesworth III.
A Kansas City, Kan., man wanted for murder in his hometown was captured in Tonganoxie at a relative's home. The man, Michael Harvey, 18, was charged with first-degree murder in Wyandotte County District Court. He was captured at a Tonganoxie duplex.
Chris Donnelly, executive vice president at First State Bank, was named Leaven-worth Area Development's Economic Development Volunteer of the Year.
A Kansas State University professor continued his work scouring the banks of Stranger Creek, looking for evidence of late prehistoric residents.
A U.S. District Court judge has ordered that a former Tonganoxie school student's lawsuit against the local school district should go to trial. The student alleged that he was the victim of sexual harassment at the hands of other students in junior high and high school -- until he quit school during the fall semester of his junior year.
Physician Philip Stevens marked his 50th year as a doctor in Tonganoxie. "It seems like about the day before yesterday," Stevens said of the day he began work in the city.
The county has hired a new planning and zoning director. Chris Dunn, a Leavenworth County native, previously had worked in Ford County and as a former tribal planner for the Kickapoo Indian tribe.

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