Archive for Wednesday, December 26, 2001

Basehor has year of promise, setbacks

December 26, 2001

What events will be remembered from 2001?

Will it be what transpired here in the Basehor and Bonner Springs area or will most memories come from the national stage?

Nationally, 2001 was not a good year for politicians.

Many in the nation cried foul when former President Bill Clinton made questionable pardon decisions in his final days in office.

Following a gruelling presidential election fiasco, Democrat Al Gore finally conceded and watched Republican George W. Bush be sworn in to office on Jan. 20.

And who could forget drama surrounding missing Washington, D.C., intern Chandra Levy and her involvement with Congressman Gary Condit?

Although time will tell how important these events actually were, no one can argue the historical significance of Sept. 11.

On that fateful morning, a nation stood stunned while watching planes crash and pillars fall as result of terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C, and Pennsylvania.

And while a new president promised to bring those responsible to justice, the bodies of civilians, police officers and firefighters were still being counted.

But as the United States continues to wage war on terrorism, 2002 approaches.

And as history has shown before, the New Year promises to be as memorable as the previous one.

For the good, the bad, and even for those that may not agree, the Sentinel has ranked the top 10 local stories of 2001.

What follows are stories 10 through six. The top five will appear in next week's edition.

No. 10

'Canes mascot snafu brings Laffere national recognition

Basehor-Linwood grad and Miami Hurricane Greg Laffere finished up his college football career with more than a victory over the Florida Gators in the Nokia Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2.

The Hurricanes left guard finished with a great big hug from the team mascot in the end zone following a Miami touchdown that sealed a win.

It was an image captured on national television as well as the local papers in New Orleans.

"I didn't know what he was doing," Laffere said. "There was a huge pileup in the end zone and I was fighting my way out and just as I got to my knees, I see this big fuzzy bird run up and start hugging me.

"So I'm trying to get off the field, but the ref has already thrown the flag giving us an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Just as he threw the flag, I turned to the Ibis and said 'What the hell are you doing?' He turns, looks at me and says 'Uh-Oh' and runs back off the field."

So how does it feel to have your 15 minutes of fame, following a successful college football career end up being a hug from the Ibis?

"We've won three straight bowl games, beaten UCLA, Virginia Tech, Florida State and now Florida. But now I'm just going to remembered as the guy who hugged the Ibis,"Laffere said.

Although the moment was light-hearted for Laffere, the Sugar Bowl turned out to be the last on the gridiron for the former Bobcat.

A recurring knee injury caused the offensive lineman to forgo entering the National Football League.

"I had a good career and I enjoyed playing," Laffere said. "The injury was a decision I didn't make. It was something my body wasn't going to let me do anymore."

Laffere is currently finishing up his education in Miami and hopes to land a job coaching football in the future.

No. 9

Boy's petition prompts removal of ad

You can't fight city hall and one man doesn't make a difference.

Well, don't tell that to Glenwood Ridge Elementary School student Jake Potts.

Forgetting those misconceptions and choosing to take on corporate America, the 9-year- old boy started a petition that prompted the removal of a liquor ad that he found offensive.

Coming home one Saturday morning, Potts noticed the billboard advertisement for Seagrams Crown Royal Whiskey near his church at State Avenue and 86th Street. The board showed a bottle of the liquor sitting on top of the Earth with the words "Heaven on Earth" written above.

Jake was hurt by the sign's message and asked his mother, Tammy, why the company would put the message so close to his church.

"I didn't think it should have been so close to the church," he said. "I thought it made fun of God and said liquor was better."

Jake then took up his crusade to remove the billboard.

Jake found the name of the company and called a local television station and got the telephone number for the company.

Jake then called the company and spoke with the owner.

Through the owner, the message was passed onto the Seagram's corporation.

However, the battle to remove the ad didn't stop there.

Jake organized a petition against the ad. The members of his church as well as neighbors near the billboard signed the petition, save for one man.

"That guy acted like he was actually drunk," Jake said. "He looked like he was about to fall out of his door. That was the only guy who didn't sign it."

The ad was soon removed from the billboard.

And while the Seagram's corporation has never come out and said the petition had anything to do with the ad's removal, representatives for the company said they were recreating the ad campaign.

For Jake the sign represented something all kids should fight against.

"Some kids think it's good not to talk about something that's bad," Jake said. "Sometimes there times when kids are supposed to stand up and talk about it."

No. 8

Ban sought on cell phone use

It was the hope of Basehor Mayor Bill Hooker to approve an ordinance enabling the city to ban cell phone use while driving inside city limits.

"Even before I was mayor, I thought everybody ought to have something on this," Hooker said. "What really enforces my thinking is that in Johnson County, you'll see seven out of 10 drivers talking on a cell pone. They cannot be concentrating on driving like they should be."

John Rasmussen, assistant legal counsel for the Kansas League of Municipalities, said he wasn't aware of any other Kansas city with such an ordinance.

"To my knowledge, Basehor would be the first that I know of," Rasmussen said. "I know New York has one because it was national, but I am not aware of anyone else in Kansas."

Before a work session on Monday, July 9, City Council members said the issue was dropped because of a lack of interest.

City Council member Joe Odle also said he did not support the ban.

"There are a lot of people who talk on their cell phone while driving," Odle said. "What is the difference between talking to someone in the back seat and talking to someone on the phone? I am an employee of the state and I do most of my business on the phone while driving."

City officials said the cell phone ban could be revisited should the Kansas legislature pass an ordinance banning motorist cell phone use.

No. 7

Heavy flooding damages Leavenworth County

Not since 1951 had water caused as much destruction in Leavenworth County as it did in June of 2001.

Not only were local farmers given fits by the heavy rains and rising floodwaters, but local governments as well.

On June 21, the rising waters of Stranger Creek caused the Linwood bridge to fall eight feet below its original height.

Citing a need to tear the bridge down, the Linwood City Council and the Leavenworth County Commission disagreed on the ownership of the bridge.

"As I understand it, the bridge is owned by the city," Daniels said. "It is maintained by the county, but it is within the city limits, so it is city property.

The County Commission sent a letter asking Linwood officials for permission to seek bids for the bridge's removal.

Linwood city officials then sent a response back to the County Commission.

"Basically, what it is going to say is that the city of Linwood has no objections to the county doing anything to their own bridge," Linwood Mayor Keith Scheller said.

The disagreement was soon resolved as the County Commission assumed ownership of the bridge and paid for its removal.

The bridge had stood in the city of Linwood for 94 years before it was torn down in November 2001.

Linwood City Council member Ed Morris said he and other city residents were sad to see it go.

"I think the community is at a loss for it," Morris said. "It was a 100-year-old bridge with 100 years of history behind it."

No. 6

Virtual Charter School receives state accreditation

The Basehor-Linwood Virtual Charter School is again receiving state recognition for its success with alternative learning programs.

This time, the recognition came by being the first school to receive state accreditation.

School district officials said the VCS was granted state accreditation giving the school the distinction of being the first in the nation to receive accreditation.

The news came as a surprise to school district officials.

"I knew what we had created was something very good," VCS director Brenda DeGroot said. "It was our goal to be accredited some day. We just didn't know we had crossed all the T's and dotted all the I's."

The VCS is an alternative source of education for home-school students. Course work is done via the Internet.

This was not the first time the school has received high praise from the state.

In August 2001, Basehor-Linwood School District Superintendent Cal Cormack testified before a Kansas State Senate subcommittee concerning the progress of charter schools in the state.

Basehor-Linwood was one of only three school districts that were represented at the hearings.

Currently, there are more than 30 charter schools in Kansas.

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