A ban on smoking in Lawrence's indoor public places and the continuing fallout over the decision was voted the top Lawrence news story in a year that included slayings, visits by a former president and a presidential candidate, and successful seasons by Kansas University athletic teams.
The ban was passed as a public health measure, to protect employees and patrons of businesses from the dangers of secondhand smoke. A petition drive gathered several thousand signatures to force a public referendum or compromise, and the ban is becoming a key issue in this spring's city elections.
Since the smoking ban took effect July 1, it has been blamed for business failures and tough times at restaurants and taverns.
Editors and reporters at The News Center gave the No. 2 spot to the developments in the slaying of Carmin D. Ross, who was found stabbed in her rural Lawrence home in November 2003. In early October, Thomas E. Murray, Ross' ex-husband, was arrested in Manhattan and charged with the slaying.
Democratic vice-presidential nominee John Edwards put Lawrence in the national spotlight with a campaign stop that drew thousands of people to a downtown rally.
Edwards returned to Lawrence 36 hours after the train carrying him and presidential candidate John Kerry zoomed past more than 1,000 supporters waiting at the city's Amtrak station. The campaign blamed the failure to stop on a miscommunication.
In May, former President Bill Clinton delivered the inaugural Dole Lecture. Because of overwhelming demand for the event planned at the Lied Center, the speech was moved to Allen Fieldhouse. A standing-room-only crowd estimated to include about 12,000 people, endured stifling heat to hear Clinton's speech on civility in public service.
Late in July, Lawrence Police began an investigation into the death of Mary Miller, 46, a Kansas University librarian. Her husband, Martin Miller, 45, told police he found his wife in their Lawrence home not breathing and unresponsive. But police later arrested Martin Miller on a charge of first-degree murder.
The unexpected occurred when the KU football squad bested rivals Kansas State University and the University of Missouri this fall. Bill Self, in his first year as men's basketball coach, took the Jayhawks to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament. Women's soccer won a share of the conference regular season title and made early round appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Women's volleyball also ended its season in NCAA Tournament play.
After falling into bankruptcy, downtown's historic Eldridge Hotel was sold at auction to a former Kansas University football standout and Texas attorney. This week, the new owners said they would close the hotel Monday for about three months for renovations, which will preserve the building's use as a hotel.
In September, Lawrence marked its 150th birthday with a week of events that peaked with a weekend parade, party and burial of a time capsule. Also, Haskell Indian Nations University celebrated its 120th anniversary. Earlier in the summer, a sesquicentennial Chautauqua brought history to life for several days.
A fiery grass-roots movement to remove Douglas County District Judge Paula Martin was noteworthy because such events are rare in state history. Her opponents were unhappy about the way she handled a case involving the rape of a 13-year-old girl. In November's election, however, voters retained Martin.
Changes in the way seats were allocated to season-ticket holders for men's basketball games at Allen Fieldhouse became emblematic of a shifting emphasis in KU's athletic operations. In the new ticket plan, the amount of donations meant more than the length of support. Also, more hiring and higher pay in the athletic department and a lengthy legal battle to learn the details of the athletic director's compensation package made it clear KU had entered what some called an athletic arms race.
|LJWorld.com's look at 2004It was a year marked by local and national politics and the city's 150th birthday. Top news and sports stories included a controversial smoking ban for Lawrence, a much ballyhooed visit by Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards and Kansas University's basketball team making it to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament.Below you'll find some of the top news, features, sports and images from 2004.
2004: The Year in Review
The past year saw some Lawrence residents dispatched to the war zones of Iraq. There were bitter divisions in a presidential election and a controversial ban on cigarette smoking in the city's public spaces. A fiery grass-roots movement to unseat a Douglas County judge was noteworthy because it was so rare in state history. ... Full story.
Cup o' Joel
Excuse us, for a second, as we slip into our Barbara Walters mode. Walters a few weeks back made a splash by announcing her list of 10 Most Fascinating People of 2004 -- and naming Paris Hilton one of the lucky few. ... Full story.
Journal-World - The top stories of 2004
A ban on smoking in Lawrence's indoor public places and the continuing fallout over the decision was voted the top Lawrence news story in a year that included slayings, visits by a former president and a presidential candidate, and successful seasons by Kansas University athletic teams. The ban was passed as a public health measure, to protect employees and patrons of businesses from the dangers of secondhand smoke. ... Full story.
6News - Top 10 stories
The smoking ban, the season ticket point system for the Kansas men's basketball games and the death of Mary Miller are just some of the stories chosen by the 6News staff as some of the important news events in Lawrence this year. ... Full story.
KUsports.com - The Year in Sports
Such historical events as the retirement of longtime women's basketball coach Marian Washington punctuated 2004 in Kansas University athletics. The calendar year also produced such trifles as the renaming of the ancient rivalry between Kansas and Missouri. ... Full story.
Photos of the Year
Journal-World photographers gave us the images that brought the stories home ... See the photos.
Lawrence.com - Year in Review
The year 2004 will likely go down as a year nobody can remember much about. After all, it's overshadowed by 2001 and marred by events we'll do our best to forget -- a regrettable war, a confounding election, the rise of the machines, the complete disappearance of Ricky Martin, etc. ... Full story.
Step aside, Mannheim Steamroller. Same to you, Bright Eyes. Lawrence music is where it's at this Christmas season, and Omaha's stale cookies are due for humiliation. ... Full story.
6Sports -- Top Stories
From the basketball team's sweep of Missouri to the Big 12 soccer championship and the Sunflower Showdown against Kansas State, 2004 was one of the most memorable years in Jayhawk history. But what were the best plays of the year? ... Full story.
The Year in Film
Jon Niccum sorts through the year's slate of movies to pick the ones that really rocked and the ones that, well, did not rock quite as much. ... Full story.