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Archive for Thursday, September 9, 2004

Area briefs

September 9, 2004

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Accident

Franklin County crash first fatality of year

Ottawa -- A 35-year-old woman was killed Tuesday when her car struck a tree near Rantoul.

Christina A. Kirkland, Rantoul, was pronounced dead at the scene, Franklin County Sheriff Craig Davis said. The accident occurred shortly before 3 p.m. on Rock Creek Road about a mile west of Rantoul.

Kirkland was driving a 1999 Mercury Mystique eastbound on Rock Creek when she lost control of the car while passing another vehicle, Davis said. The car went off the north side of the road and struck the tree. Kirkland was not wearing a seat belt, Davis said.

The wreck was the first fatal traffic accident of the year in Franklin County, Davis said.

Courts

Judge approves mental evaluation

David Jay, the former Kansas University student charged in an area arson spree in March, will receive a mental health evaluation, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Jay's request was approved in Johnson County District Court. Jay has asserted that he has a mental illness.

He will appear in court again Nov. 17 to hear the judge's decision on a motion to suppress statements.

The 24-year-old has been charged with setting 14 fires in Johnson County, most at homes and businesses that were under construction. Though he has not been charged in Douglas County, Jay is suspected in three arson fires that took place in March in the Lawrence area: one at a dental office, one at a garden store and one at KU's Watson Library.

Sesquicentennial

First Lawrence house was cabin at Sixth, Mass.

With the city set to celebrate its 150th birthday Sept. 18, the Journal-World is taking a look at early-day life in Lawrence:

The first house constructed on the site of present-day Lawrence is believed to be a log cabin constructed in May 1854 by Charles Stearns, a settler who preceded the New England Emigrant Aid Company.

The cabin was near the southeast corner of present-day Sixth and Massachusetts streets.

The cabin was torn down around 1881.

Environment

Monarch Watch open house is Saturday

It's been a good year for monarch caterpillars.

"In and around Lawrence, the survival rate is as high as I've ever seen it," said Chip Taylor, director at Kansas University's Monarch Watch program. "We've already collected more than 300 caterpillars from the plants here."

Taylor and his students will be giving away caterpillars and pupae during Monarch Watch's fall open house, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Foley Hall on KU's west campus.

Monarch Watch will host its annual butterfly tagging event from 8 a.m. to noon Sept. 18 at the Baker Wetlands.

Officials meet today to tout preparedness

Douglas County residents can get a glimpse this morning at some of the faces behind masks, helmets and other protective equipment donned during emergencies.

Members of the Douglas County Emergency Management Board will celebrate "National Preparedness Month" at 9:30 a.m. today at the Douglas County Courthouse, 11th and Massachusetts streets.

The event will include information and displays from a variety of law-enforcement, emergency-response, military and volunteer organizations.

Demolition derby raises thousands for agency

A demolition derby Saturday raised thousands of dollars for the Douglas County Infant-Toddler Coordinating Council.

A crowd of about 2,500 people watched the second annual Crashing for Kids Demolition Derby at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds rodeo arena.

Taking first place in the compact car category was Richard Neis, Eudora, who pocketed $800 in prize money. Finishing behind him were Jonnie Horne, Wellsville, second, $400; Tony Horne, Quenemo, third, $200; and Austin Rose, Eudora, fourth, $100.

The winners in the full-size car category were Ryan Schweer, Parker, first, $3,000; Loren Stone, Lawrence, second, $500; Brian Stone, Baldwin, third, $500; Dusty Gilgas, East Peoria, Ill., fourth, $500; and Nick Erlacher, Wellsville, fifth, $500.

The "Mad Dog" best of show winner was Tony Atchinson, who picked up $1,750.

The derby raised between $15,000 and $20,000 for the council, which provides services to infants and toddlers who have special needs. Final results won't be known until later this month.

Federal inspection gives county flood-relief hope

A federal inspector is recommending that local governments share in federal financing for disaster relief resulting from flash floods that struck the area last month.

Chuck Neu, an inspector for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, spent Wednesday looking over damaged roads, ditches and drainage pipes in Palmyra, Wakarusa and Willow Springs townships.

He determined that local governments in the county should be eligible for reimbursement of at least 75 percent of costs associated with making repairs to such infrastructure, said Paula Phillips, the county's director of emergency management. But Neu's ruling is not final.

Neu's recommendation has been forwarded to FEMA officials for review. Phillips hopes to hear the agency's ruling by the end of the week.

Thus far, Phillips has documented an estimated $220,000 in damage to public infrastructure in the county.

Environmental historian to give talk tonight

Kansas University history professor Donald Worster will discuss the beginning of the nation's wildlife conservation movement at a meeting tonight of the Jayhawk Audubon Society.

Worster will talk at 7:30 p.m. at the Lawrence Senior Center, 745 Vt.

An environmental historian, Worster is the author of several books, including "Rivers of Empire," which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1985. His latest book, "A River Running West: The Life of John Wesley Powell," was published in 2001.

Worster's presentation, "Women, Men and Wildlife Conservation," is free and open to the public.

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