Archive for Wednesday, January 5, 2005

A look back at events of previous years

January 5, 2005

Editor's note: This is a continuation of a recollection of 2004, based on stories that appeared in The Mirror.


Early-morning heavy winds pitched a wooden pole through an exterior wall of Linda Hemphill's house in south Tonganoxie. The pole landed just above a bed in which no one was sleeping.

A Kansas State University archaeological team, led by Brad Logan, excavated a prehistoric site along Stranger Creek. Logan estimated some of the artifacts at 1,500 years old. According to Logan, the area is ripe with traces of history.

Lynn McClure was hired as the new director of Leavenworth Area Development, a countywide economic development group.

An old-fashioned summer band concert was held at Tonganoxie's VFW Park, with members of the community band, led by school band director Charles VanMiddlesworth, performing. Band members and director sported red, white and blue caps to help celebrate Independence Day.

A Tonganoxie woman, Susan Y. Martin, 52, faced sentencing on charges that she bilked her elderly mother-in-law, who lived in Montana, out of $760,000.

The Tonganoxie school district denied allegations of sexual discrimination. A lawsuit, filed May 7 in federal court by a former student's father, alleges the district took no action to prevent sexual harassment of the student and failed to punish other students who participated in sexual harassment.

The Tonganoxie City Council agreed to increase, in 2005, the fire department staff by adding a third full-time position to the staff. The council also decided to increase the city's police force by one officer, and to raise part-time officers' wages from $10.40 to $11 an hour.

In a cornfield near Reno, Sidney Grinter, who is 10, bites into an ear of fresh-picked sweet corn. The Grinter family sells corn and other produce at the Lawrence Farmers' Market.

On Kansas Highway 32, near where the road intersects with U.S. Highway 24-40, a truck carrying diesel fuel erupted in fire. Fortunately, the driver was not injured, but the $100,000 truck was destroyed.

Josh Pearson, a 1996 Tonganoxie High School graduate, was recovering from a serious fall. Pearson had been helping a friend trim a tree when he slipped and fell about 20 feet.

German visitors Ursula Schindler and her son, Michael Schindler, were guests at the home of Merald and Shirley Tice. The families first met when the Tices were on a tour of Germany and stopped to ask Ursula for directions. They've been close friends since.

Local adults and youths teamed together to present a summer theatre. "The Odd Couple" also allowed students, who were paid, to learn how to build sets and run the behind-the-scenes work.

Tammy Potts, Basehor, was hoping to change the way Leavenworth County Emergency Medical Service handles calls when patients have signed a power of attorney document.

A new Kansas law made it so that landlords could no longer be billed for their tenants' delinquent utility bills.

Five years after being displaced by Kansas Speedway and other commercial properties, the residents who moved to southern Leavenworth County had various feelings about the forced sales of their homes.

Tonganoxie High School students involved in Family, Career and Community Leaders of America earned high honors at a July 11-15 convention in Chicago.

Suburban Water, a Basehor business owned by Ray Breuer and Mike Breuer, offered to provide water to the city of Tonganoxie. At a city council meeting, city administrator Shane Krull urged the city to contract with the Kansas City, Kan., Board of Public Utilities for water. This would mean the city would build a pipeline to the BPU hookup near Basehor.


Undersheriff Dave Zoellner was victorious in the primary election in his bid for sheriff. Zoellner brought in 1,793 votes, compared to his challenger, Gene Tomrell, who tallied 787 votes. Zoellner faces no opposition in the general election, so he will take office as the new county sheriff in January.

Officials of the Environmental Protection Agency were in the area, conducting a mock disaster drill at the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds and at the county's gravel pits.

Tonganoxie Nursing Center resident Anna Payne celebrated her 75th wedding anniversary at the center with her husband, Carl, and family members.

Young 4-H'ers throughout the county started off fair activities by participating with their dogs at a 4-H meet.

Tonganoxie High School's new principal, Tatia Shelton, had moved to Tonganoxie with her family, and was getting ready for the start of the school year. Shelton was hired after former principal Mike Bogart retired.

The 47th annual McLouth Threshing Bee drew a customary large crowd. Doug McQuitty added his own touch to the event, walking through the crowd playing his bagpipes.

Tonganoxie city council members approved a revised anti-ATV ordinance, one which does allow the use of the vehicles on private property. This was a reversal of a city law approved in June that outlawed the use of the vehicles on private property.

Area residents Bill and Debbie Laundy bought a ranch house in Olathe and moved it to the Tonganoxie area where they planned to renovate the house and live in it.

Tonganoxie school board member Rick Lamb was attending board meetings again, after having suffered a heart attack in June. Lamb was also back to his work at West Haven Baptist Church where he serves as pastor.

At the Leavenworth County Fair, it was kids and livestock and a week's worth of activities, with something to entertain people of all ages. The weather was cooler than normal, making for comfortable days, as well as evenings.

The enrollment at Tonganoxie Elementary School was once again on the rise, with an anticipated 833 students, about 30 more than the year before.

Tonganoxie toddler Tesla Felty was progressing well, despite having been born at 24 weeks gestation. Her parents credited Tesla's success to help from the Leavenworth County Infant-Toddler Services' tiny-K Program. A "turbo turtle" fund-raiser to benefit tiny-K was planned to be held at the swimming pool.

Tonganoxie banker Kent Needham was inducted as chairman of the Kansas Bankers Association. Needham is president and chief executive officer of First State Bank and Trust.

Tonganoxie 12-year-old Nick Norman was an active volunteer at the Good Shepherd Thrift Shop and Food Pantry.

Several Tonganoxie residents who are members of the Tonganoxie Assembly of God Church traveled to Honduras to distribute donated school supplies to children.

A two-part feature in The Mirror focused on Nick Marel, a former Tonganoxie stonemason who built homes, barns and other stone projects in the area. Marel lived in the Tonganoxie area from about 1941 until his death in 1968.

Tonganoxie police officer Cecil Vineyard was honored at a city council meeting for his 23 years of work as a Tonganoxie police officer.

Andy Gilner was treated to a Father's Day present of tickets to baseball games at five ballparks on the East Coast. He and his daughter, Amanda Grigsby, went to ball games in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore.


Tonganoxie High School students were offered a first-hand look at a C-SPAN bus. The students learned more about how the networks and the government operate.

Farmers were grateful for a summer that offered plentiful and timely rains. It looked as if the corn crop would be a bumper harvest. Soybeans were looking good, too.

Tonganoxie High School's ACT scores took a slight dip from the previous year, but were still above state average. The school's average composite score was 21.4, and the state's average composite score was 21.6.

Fire destroyed a rural home belonging to Mark and Lori Elston. No one was in the rental house when the fire was reported.

Cindy Sartin embarked on a new business with her "Wild Thyme" herbs.

David Robinson, general superintendent of Evangelical Friends Church and Mid-America yearly Meeting in Wichita, said a move was under way to save the old church. Offers of financial assistance were contingent on the restoration and revitalization of the church at the existing location, just west of downtown Tonganoxie.

Leigh Ann (Hand) Coffman, an Edwardsville artist who grew up in Tonganoxie, is an artist whose paintings were on display at the Wyandotte West Library.

Mark Padfield and Larry Easter purchased the fitness center at Midwest Health. They planned to revamp their portion of the building and set up a system that will allow members to exercise at "Unlimited Fitness" 24 hours a day.

Matt Dohrn was the new owner of Tire Trax, formerly known as Forshee Tire and Lube. Dorhn also owns the Tire Shop in McLouth.

Wildlife experts noted the number of quail in the county appeared to be on the rise.

This year's new teachers in Tonganoxie include two men who are in their second professions. Michael Bush, who teaches sixth-grade, is retired from the Army. Russell Shields, who's teaching Web journalism classes at the high school, is an attorney who worked in the banking industry for 20 years.

At Tonganoxie Elementary School, Grandparents' Day festivities resulted in 600 special guests visiting students at school.

An Aug. 2, 2005, trial date has been set for the sexual discrimination lawsuit against the Tonganoxie school district. If it goes to trial, the case will be heard in federal court in Kansas City, Kan.

The Tonganoxie school district's official Sept. 20 enrollment count showed the district's enrollment of 1,618, topped that of Sept. 20, 2003, which was 1,565.

A local woman, Carla Jean Meyer Senger, pled guilty to selling securities as an unregistered broker-dealer, selling unregistered securities and securities fraud. The woman, scheduled to stand trial on charges that she was running a $1.2 million Ponzi scheme, pled guilty to three felonies.

Betty Davis, who lives south of Tonganoxie, was thrilled with this year's gardening efforts. Her asters were filled with purple blooms. She credited the weather for her success.

The Tonganoxie City Council approved a water contract with the Kansas City Kan., Board of Public Utilities. The council also approved the rezoning of three small residential tracts behind a vacant building so that Casey's General Store can move its business a block north.

Members of Sacred Heart Catholic Church prepared for the move to the a parish center, nearing completion at the intersection of U.S. Highway 24-40 and Washington Street.

Area Linwood families braced for the possibility that four young men who are in the military could be deployed to Iraq.


A grease fire burned Mary Breedlove and her son, Shawn Breedlove. Mary Breedlove grabbed the pan and took it outside her apartment, but in the process the grease burned her right hand and arm. It also spilled on her 3-year-old son's back and in his diapers. A fund was established to help the family.

Jodi Bowersox held an auction to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Jodi's son Traci, an eighth-grader at Tonganoxie Junior High, was diagnosed with CF when he was 18 months old.

School administrators from Piper and Tonganoxie met to discuss post-game problems when the two teams met on the football field in September. Before next year's game, administrators decided, team members and coaches would shake hands before the game. Teams customarily shake hands after a contest, but tempers flared after the game, and players were escorted to their respective sides of the field. Tonganoxie won the game, 17-14, in overtime.

Jesse Allen Plaster, 23, of rural Tonganoxie, was charged in Douglas County District Court with aggravated robbery and fleeing to allude. Police said Plaster approached an 18-year-old Kansas University student in the parking lot of Gertrude Sellards Pearson and Corbin residence halls and pulled a gun and demanded keys and her backpack. Plaster then led police on a car chase through Lawrence before he was apprehended.

The Tonganoxie High volleyball team cracked the Kansas Volleyball Association rankings. The Chieftains made their debut at No. 2 in Class 4A.

McLouth junior running back Kevin Stewart rushed for 275 yards on 35 carries as the Bulldogs defeated Valley Falls, 29-18.

Sam Todd and his family lost their home to a fire Oct. 7 north of Tonganoxie.

As was the case with the entire nation, flu vaccines were in short supply in Tonganoxie. In 2003, physician Philip Stevens supplied 800 area residents with vaccinations. In 2004, however, the 500 doses he ordered were not delivered because of a British supplier's contaminations.

A 7-year-old North Lawrence business that refinishes, repairs and adds non-stick coating to commercial bans and multi-level oven racks moved to Tonganoxie's Urban Hess Business Center. Jim Thomas of McLouth and John Hoerner, who lives in the United Kingdom, own Pan Pro-Co. The business moved into a building at Leavenworth County Road 5 and Laming Road. The structure is owned by the Animal Clinic of Tonganoxie, of which local veterinarian Vickie Smith is a partner.

The Tonganoxie Assembly of God Church formally changed its name to the Cornerstone Family Worship. Rev. Ron Swain said the name change better reflected the mission of the church.

Tonganoxie seniors Sam Mitchell and Ashlee Murphy were named homecoming king and queen before the THS-Basehor-Linwood football game. Tonganoxie won, 55-14.

The Tonganoxie football team posted 590 rushing yards in their homecoming win. Senior quarterback Ross Starcher had 236 rushing yards in the victory.

Tonganoxie Elementary School's annual cross country meet attracted 140 youths to the THS cross country course. The event was sponsored by the Chieftain cross country team.

The city planned to seek grant money for a concrete sidewalk -- a pedestrian and bicycle path -- that would stretch from the northeast corner of Fourth and Main streets north past the swimming pool to Chieftain Park and the school district's athletics fields. The project has been called Chieftain Trail.

The Tonganoxie boys cross country team captured the Kaw Valley League championship by winning the league meet with 24 points, which was 29 points ahead of second-place Mill Valley.

Tonganoxie City Administrator Shane Krull accepted the county administrator position for Miami County in Paola. Krull is a native of Osawatomie, which also is in Miami County. Krull's last day as city administrator was Dec. 10.

A rural fire claimed another home, this time at 25493 Kansas Ave. The house, owned by Diane Smith, was a total loss.

Tonganoxie Mayor Dave Taylor wants to start an organization known as Mayors Across America. Membership requirements would include being a mayor -- current or former -- and donating $10, which would be used for charitable work.

Playing at Eudora, Tonganoxie had its dreams of a state volleyball berth dashed when the host Cardinals won in three games. Tonganoxie had defeated Eudora earlier in the season at THS, but Eudora returned the favor. THS finished the season at 30-9.

The Tonganoxie football team outlasted De Soto, 27-26, and captured its first district title since 1995.


A former McLouth minister was sentenced to 15 years in a Missouri prison after pleading guilty to molesting teen-age boys. Donald Peckham, 71, at one time was minister of the Methodist Church in McLouth.

Tonganoxie senior cross country runner Andy Kolman placed 13th at the state meet in Wamego. At the 2003 state meet, Kolman finished 40th. Freshman Christy Weller ran at the state meet, but didn't finish. Weller, who had a standout season as a freshman, sustained an injury during a physical education class earlier in the week.

The McLouth girls cross country team placed fifth in the Class 3A race in Wamego.

McLouth couldn't rally against Maur Hill in its football season finale and fell to the Junior Ravens, 27-19. The Bulldogs opened the season at 4-1, but dropped its final four games for a 4-5 final record. MHS, though, made substantial strides. The Bulldogs snapped a 20-game losing streak and won at home for the first time in several years. After finishing in last place in the Delaware Valley League the last three years, MHS placed fourth this season.

The Tonganoxie school district's $25.3 million bond issue passed. Voters approved it, 2,319 to 1,613. The project will fund construction of a middle school on the district's 80 acres on Washington Street and remodel and expand the grade school and high school. The current high school and junior high will become a high school campus for freshmen through seniors.

The Sacred Heart Parish Center opened its doors on U.S. Highway 24-40. The parish's previous home was on River Street, in a church that served area Catholics for more than 100 years.

The Children's Wish Foundation presented 13-year-old Tracy Bowersox with a laptop computer and high-tech film editing software. The presentation actually was a surprise to Tracy. Faculty and staff of Kansas University's theater and film department were giving Tracy's older brother, 17-year-old Tristan, an elaborate tour of the Oldfather Studios at KU as part of a recruiting tool. Tracy thought he was tagging along with older brother, but in reality, was being led to a room where his computer equipment was placed.

McLouth dedicated a veterans memorial in its city park. The memorial includes bricks bearing the names of men and women who have served in the armed forces or who currently are serving in the armed forces. The living memorial will continue to have bricks added to it.

Tonganoxie held its own against the tradition-rich Hayden, but the Wildcats were too much for the Chieftains and won the regional match-up, 27-14. The highlight of the game for Tonganoxie was a goal-line stand against the host Wildcats. Tonganoxie stopped Hayden on third-and-one and on fourth-and-one again stuffed the play. But in the process, the Hayden running back coughed up the ball and senior Garrett Palmer scooped up the ball and ran 99 yards for the unbelievable touchdown. Tonganoxie was up, 6-0, but Hayden responded with 27 unanswered points and the eventual state champions advanced to the next round. Tonganoxie, which lost a large senior class from the previous year, had an even better record than in 2003. THS finished at 9-2 after winning its first playoff game since 1995.

Leavenworth County Atty. Frank Kohl was the subject of a KCTV-5 report alleging that a computer technician who works for the county found Kohl had used his office computer to surf pornographic Web sites. Kohl, however, said he logged on to the Web sites for work-related reasons, usually because county residents called his office concerned about Web site information they receive via e-mail.

Tonganoxie restaurant owner Pam Phillips traveled to Savannah, Ga., for a getaway vacation. The trip was a gift from her husband to celebrate the couple's 30th wedding anniversary. While in Savannah, Philips went to the restaurant of Paula Deen, the cooking personality on The Food Network.

Leavenworth County District Judge Frederick Stewart found transgender Sandy Gast not guilty of making a false swearing. Gast, who in February was in transition from a man to becoming a woman, applied for a marriage license and successfully was granted the license. She planned to marry Georgi Somers, a man living as a woman. Before the couple could marry in Topeka, however, Somers' daughter called sheriff's officials in Leavenworth County about the couple's intentions. Gast was arrested on charges of false swearing, a misdemeanor, but Stewart found her not guilty.

A Tonganoxie woman was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison for fraud. Carla Senger was sentenced after Leavenworth County District Judge Frederick Stewart found her responsible for cheating family and friends out of thousands of dollars.

The Lynch family is hoping research will help their son walk again. Evan Lynch, the 4-year-old son of Dan and Cindy Lynch, suffered spinal cord injuries when he was injured in a two-vehicle accident in December 2003 on Kansas Highway 16 between Tonganoxie and McLouth.

Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium will be the site for a baseball game between Tonganoxie and Basehor-Linwood on April 19. School officials and Royals representatives agreed to a deal for the game. To play at the stadium, each high school team will have to sell 1,000 tickets to the Royals game that will be played earlier that day. Kansas City is slated to play Cleveland that afternoon.

Former Piper basketball player Leo Criswell signed a letter of intent to play basketball at the University of Missouri. Criswell earlier had planned to play basketball for Tubby Smith at Kentucky, but his mother wanted him to play closer to home.


Steve Gumm, Emmett Wetta and Kathy Graveman do not plan to run for re-election to the Tonganoxie City Council. However, Tonganoxie school board members Bob DeHoff, Darlyn Hansen and Kay Smith said they were leaning toward seeking re-election.

Rachel Saunders, a 21-year-old Tonganoxie native, was named Miss Kansas USA. She will compete next spring in the Miss USA pageant in Baltimore.

McGraw Fertilizer received an outpouring of support after a KCTV-5 investigative report claimed the company sold a total of 500 pounds of a fertilizer blend that could be explosive. A story by The Mirror, however, reported the mix was not explosive. Owner Bill McGraw received encouragement and support from across the country, including via email. Many readers contacted KCTV-5 to voice opposition to the report.

THS Principal Tatia Shelton told school board members that Tonganoxie High seniors will be required to complete a senior project. It will involve a written report, a physical report and an oral presentation made to a panel of experts. The projects will start with the Class of 2008.

A Leavenworth man was arrested on charges of operating a mobile meth lab. Tonganoxie police stopped the vehicle along U.S. Highway 24-40.

Buffalo are roaming in the area of 199th Street and Parallel Road. The animals live about a quarter-mile south of the intersection, but are escaping their fences. The buffalo are owned by Marc and Diane Thiry of Shawnee.

The city of Tonganoxie will take over holiday lighting of downtown trees next year, council members decided Dec. 13.

McLouth football coach Harry Hester was named the Lawrence Journal-World's all-area coach of the year. Hester guided the Bulldogs to a 4-5 season in his second year in McLouth. In his first year, the team went 0-9, part of a 20-game losing skid for the program.

A rural Lansing man who was injured while serving in Baghdad reported to sheriff's officers that when he returned home, his farm-equipment shed had been cleaned out. News of the theft spread from the Tonganoxie and Lansing newspapers to a KMBC-9 TV and then to Mix 93.3 FM. One of the Kansas City radio station's disc jockeys, Kelly Urich, started a drive on the radio to raise money for a new tractor for Leslie Ward. Later reports showed that Ward agreed to a diversion in a 2002 case in which he had been charged with felony possession of stolen property. When Ward filed a report for his recent stolen equipment, they had no VIN numbers.

A 60-year-old photograph from a Christmas Eve mass in Corsica during World War II connected John Lenahan to Dominique Taddei. Lenahan sent the picture to a magazine, 57th Bomb Wing Quarterly, in hopes of reconnecting with fellow servicemen. Instead, the picture caught the eye of Taddei, who was a 6-year-old Corsican at the time of the picture.

Tonganoxie downtown businesses stayed open late two Thursdays in December to promote holiday shopping in the business district. And the program was so well-received that the chamber of commerce plans to hold the promotion again next year.

Longtime Tonganoxie Junior High coach Phil Jeannin, who has coached at TJHS for 32 years, said he would not be returning to coach basketball -- at least not for a while. He still will coach track.

Nancy Milleret, a Tonganoxie High graduate and Kansas State University-Salina junior, is one of eight KSU student selected to help with the GlobalFlyer project. Organizers are planning for the endeavor to be the first solo, nonstop flight around the world.

A court-ordered mediation of a sexual discrimination lawsuit failed between the Tonganoxie school district and a former student. The former student's father filed the lawsuit on his son's behalf. The lawsuit alleges that form February 2000 to December 2003, the former student was sexually harassed because his harassers believed he was homosexual. The lawsuit also said the harassment contained references to homosexuality.

The Wander Inn has new owners. Charlie and Barbara Conrad purchased the drinking establishment from Gary and Wanda Williams. The Williams have operated the downtown Tonganoxie business the past 14 years.

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