The Mirror looks back at the top stories of 2009
Soon the calendar will turn to 2010.
Before we bid farewell to 2009, here is a look back at the top stories of the year that was. In no particular order, here are the top 5 stories of 2009:
Sunday and select holiday liquor sales passes
During a special election in September, Tonganoxie voters said “yes” to Sunday and select holiday liquor sales by about a 2-to-1 vote.
The “yes” vote prevailed, 250-132.
“I’m so glad that people got out there and voted how they felt,” Mary Krouse, owner of Mary's Retail Liquor, said after the September vote. “An election was the fairest way to get it decided. I hope that everyone can be happy with the results, and I look forward to serving the people of Tonganoxie.”
The vote ended an ongoing debate during the past six years about whether the city should allow the sales. As more area cities adopted expanded retail liquor sale dates, Tonganoxie liquor store owners voiced their concerns to the Tonganoxie City Council about losing money to those out-of-town retailers.
Opponents of the expanded sale dates contended that six days a week is plenty to purchase retail liquor and cited safety concerns.
Dennis Bixby, who regularly has attended council meetings in opposition of Sunday sales, said it was tough to see the results.
“It wasn’t surprising,” Bixby said following the vote. “It was a disappointment, but we’ve had people who have gone down there each time and signed petitions, do whatever, and I think it kind of got them worn down."
When the city council has voted to allow Sunday and select holiday sales, protest petitions have been successfully filed and killed any chance for expanded sales.
Post office moving
Construction of a new post office near U.S. Highway 24-40 took place in 2009. Though work continues on the new facility, the post office, which for years has been in downtown Tonganoxie, soon will move to its new home at the southeast corner of Laming Road and Woodfield Drive, north of U.S. Highway 24-40.
The construction proceeded despite a construction freeze on new post offices, as money for the new post office was allocated in 2008 before John Potter, postmaster general, announced the construction freeze earlier this year.
The new post office features a larger lobby and expanded parking.
Plans to move from the downtown area, where the current post office has stood for more than 45 years, also faced opposition from city leaders and the public.
It started with a student-led candlelight vigil for three Tonganoxie High School students. It has grown into a community group that raises money for those in the Tonganoxie School District who are battling serious illnesses.
A vigil for THS students Jake Ostermeyer, Connor Olson and Austin Stone has evolved into a support group that has held a car show, community block party and more to help fellow Tonganoxie residents in need. Ostermeyer underwent a kidney transplant in which his mother donated one of her kidneys; Connor Olson was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year; and Austin Stone continues to recover from complications during a routine dental visit.
The organization has raised hundreds of dollars for local families.
And though Stone could not be at his own graduation because he was recovering from complications during that dental visit, he eventually donned the cap and gown.
The dental incident left him blind, hard of hearing and has caused problems with his speech. It also left his time at THS incomplete because he was not able to graduate with the class of 2009 this past May.
Although Lance Stone, Austin’s father, was able to attend the May commencement ceremony to accept the diploma on his son’s behalf, he gave it back because he wanted his son to receive it.
“When his dad walked across the stage — no offense Lance — that just wasn’t good enough for us,” Jamie Carlisle, THS principal, said during Austin’s very own commencement ceremony. “We just wanted Austin to do it for us.”
Turnpike Interchange opens
The top story in today’s edition of The Mirror also is one of the top five stories of 2009.
Discussions date back to the early 1990s about constructing a turnpike interchange in Leavenworth County.
On Tuesday, the interchange became a reality. It also is the first automated toll in the state.
THS senior dies in his sleep
Jeremy Elliott was one of several people at the candlelight vigil for fellow THS students in early April. Later that month, Elliott died in his sleep from a heart condition. The night before he had won the javelin event at Tonganoxie High School’s home track invitational. He was 17.
His smile could brighten the world of someone having a bad day, he could laugh at his own joke so hard that it made others laugh and he could even snarf down a pound of bacon in “three minutes flat.”
Those were a few memories told during Elliott’s funeral, as roughly 780 attended services for the Tonganoxie High School junior at the Tonganoxie Christian Church Family Life Center.