Archive for Thursday, January 2, 2003

A look back at 2002

January 2, 2003

The ball has dropped, the champagne has been opened, balloons fallen, confetti flung from the rooftops and the red carpets parted.

Yep, a New Year.

But before talking about 2003, let's all sojourn back to 2002, which, by comparison wasn't as illustrious as 2001 per news standards, but still had its share of news breakers and headline makers.

On a national level, everyone ventured back to the harrowing events of Sept. 11, 2001. The senseless destruction of that day leaves a nation still healing from the viciousness terrorists inflicted on innocent people in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.

One year later, the country witnessed the fallout: victim's families began suing for damages, New York City policy makers initiated plans to develop the World Trade Center site and the government continues its war on terrorism at home and abroad.

But other stories dominated U.S. headlines as well.

Profiteering took on a whole new definition in 2002 as corporate giants Enron and World Comm cooked the books. And don't forget the scandalous activities of that domestic symbol of tranquility Martha Stewart.

Politically, this year's election brought some change to Capitol Hill.

The Republicans kept the House, and won back the Senate, save for Senate majority leader Trent Lott's recent resignation, the elephants keep plodding along.

Internationally, the stage is a bit more cluttered as U.S. relations with Iraq and North Korea continue to sour.

The White House has put its public relations machine in overdrive to win public support for a likely war in Iraq, and possibly North Korea, over the possibility of both countries stockpiling nuclear weapons.

This is occurring as military and intelligence agencies battle to rid the world of Al Qaeda primarily and terrorism in general.

But let's narrow the search a bit more locally in our hunt for top stories from the past year.

In Kansas, Democrat Kathleen Sebelius bucked the national trend and won the race for governor over Republican counterpart Tim Shallenburger.

Current Gov. Bill Graves imposed approximately $300 million in budget cuts to battle a problematic deficit. The cuts have limited state agencies, city and county budgets and some cities have joined together in a lawsuit over the reductions.

In the court's, convictions were sought and received for medication altering pharmacist Robert Courtney and cyber serial killer John Robinson.

But let's get to the heart of the coverage area, Basehor and Leavenworth County.

News wise, the year wasn't as juicy as 2001 -- no mayors on trial for sex charges, no former country commissioner charged with running an illegal night club -- but still had its share of headlines.

Listed below are recaps from the top five stories of 2002 and those stories that are at least worth mentioning, compiled by the Sentinel staff.

No. 5 Investigators reopen Leach case

In December, police agencies -- the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Department and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation -- announced they would reopen the case of missing Linwood teen Randy Wayne Leach.

Leach disappeared April 15, 1988, from a high school pre- graduation party northeast of Linwood. He nor the 1985 Dodge 600 4-door Sedan he drove that night have been seen since.

In the nearly 15 years since his disappearance, the case has remained unsolved and classified in police files as a missing person.

But investigators announced a new wrinkle to reopening the case: they now conceded that Leach met with foul play and consider the case a homicide.

"We think he has met with foul play," said Bill Delaney of the KBI last month. "It's reasonable to believe that. A reasonable person would believe that. A reasonable law enforcement officer would believe that."

No. 4 Development invades Basehor

For years, speculation was abound that not only would Basehor grow, but that it had to grow.

In 2002, those rumors and speculation began to take seed as truth, both commercially and residentially.

According to city figures, approximately 1,400 homes were under some stage of construction in Basehor.

Annexation added to the mix as the city brought in Falcon Lakes, a 560-home development with a golf course, on Kansas Highway 7 north of Leavenworth Road.

And businesses also started coming with proposals for commercial developments such as Pinehurst, Prairie Gardens, Prairie Lakes, Falcon Lakes and the newly remodeled Basehor Town Square.

Even city government, schools and other public agencies began planning for expansion as city officials discussed the relocation of Basehor City Hall and the post office, and both the school district and community library began planning for bond issues.

No. 3 Basehor-Linwood superintendent announces retirement

In September, Basehor-Linwood School District Superintendent Cal Cormack announced he would retire at the end of the school year following a seven-year stint in the district.

Cormack said he would not be taking another job and would spend his retirement traveling with his wife.

Cormack was hired in 1996 as assistant superintendent.

He was approved in 2001 by the School Board to lead the district after the resignation of then-superintendent David Pendleton.

A search for his replacement has begun, with help from the Kansas Association of School Boards.

No. 2 Tumultuous times at

Basehor City Hall

It goes without saying that 2002 wasn't the most pleasant in Basehor city government.

The spiraling chain of events began in August with the resignation of then-mayor Bill Hooker and ran through the end of the year with charges being filed against former city clerk Jennifer Srubas-Willis for stealing public funds from the city.

Sandwiched in between were the following events: the replacement of three planning commission members, one city council member and the appointment of a new mayor, rescinding a previously awarded bid for a multi-million dollar sewer interceptor project and the city being named in a lawsuit from a development company.

No. 1 Basehor-Linwood School District proposes bond issue

Call it the $30 million question: should the Basehor-Linwood School District move forward with plans for new school construction at three elementary schools and a new middle school?

On Jan. 21, Basehor and Linwood voters will decide.

The bond issue, approximately $29.9 million, would finance four new classrooms at Basehor Elementary School, eight classrooms at Glenwood Ridge Elementary School, renovation to Linwood Elementary School and a new Basehor-Linwood Middle School located on County Road 2.

In August, school officials announced they would seek voter approval for the new construction, which was needed because of a boom in growth in the district's area.

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