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Our reporters have been busy compiling a list of the biggest stories of the year. Take a look at their lists and make your own.
What was hot in 2008?
As one new year begins, the Lawrence Journal-World takes a look back at some of the most newsworthy events that shaped 2008.
Here are the top 10 stories of 2008, as selected by the News Center staff.
Who could forget Mario Chalmers’ three-pointer? With 2.1 seconds left in regulation, the shot from the Kansas University junior guard tied the NCAA National Basketball Championship game against the University of Memphis. The Jayhawks went on to win in overtime, 75-68, at the Alamodome. Back in Lawrence, fireworks and cheers filled the air as thousands of fans poured out onto Massachusetts Street celebrating KU’s first national title in 20 years.
In one of the most surprising outcomes of the local election, Lawrence voters said yes — and overwhelmingly so — to three city sales taxes.
Voters supported a 0.3 percent sales tax for a variety of street and infrastructure projects.
They also passed two sales taxes — totaling 0.25 percent — to support the transit system. The money will be used to finance the continuation and expansion of the city’s transit system. If the tax measures had failed, city commissioners and public transit supporters had predicted the city would shut down both its fixed route system and paratransit system.
In early December, KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway announced he would step down at the end of the school year. Hired in 1995, Hemenway presided over the school during a time of growth and prosperity. Kansas Board of Regents plans to name a new chancellor by fall 2009. Hemenway said he plans to teach and write a book on intercollegiate athletics once he leaves his post on June 30.
4. Jana Mackey
Friends and schoolmates were left stunned when the slain body of 25-year-old Kansas University law student Jana Mackey was found in her ex-boyfriend’s home in July.
A day later the suspect, Adolfo Garcia-Nunez, a 46-year-old Lawrence man, was taken into custody by Elizabeth, N.J., police, who arrested him on second-degree murder charges. While awaiting extradition, Garcia-Nunez hanged himself at the Elizabeth police headquarters.
The events led Mackey’s parents and friends to start a service movement in honor of Mackey, who was a well-known advocate against domestic violence and for women’s rights.
In October, the Lawrence School Board approved the construction of athletic facilities at Lawrence and Free State high schools. While the decision paves the way for the city’s high schools to have two identical sports complexes, it also brought about a lawsuit from neighbors worried about property values declining.
In November, a judge lifted a restraining order allowing major construction to move forward on the project. The school district hopes part of the construction project will be finished in time to have spring sports break in the new turf.
Kellam Jones, 17, is the only survivor of an early morning double homicide after a botched robbery in June on Delaware Street that killed Baker University student Roland Klundt, 20. Klundt had shot and killed Jones’ accomplice, Gage Hauk, 18. Jones eventually pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Jones was sentenced in December to 14 years in prison.
KU’s football team capped off its best season in the program’s history as Orange Bowl Champions. The Jayhawks beat Virginia Tech 24-21 in Miami’s Dolphin Stadium and finished the season 12-1.
State revenues started collapsing as the national recession deepened. Lawmakers faced a $140 million deficit in the current fiscal year, which could increase to $1 billion next year. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has proposed a 3-percent cut, including higher education.
The downtown nightclub Last Call closed its doors for good in February. Earlier that month three people were shot and injured outside the club. The February incident was preceded by a May 2006 incident in which seven shots were fired inside the club, although no one was injured. In August, the nightclub company, operated by Dennis Steffes, officially lost its lease when an eviction lawsuit was settled.
It’s been more than a year since the Kansas Department of Health and Environment denied the permit for Sunflower Electric Power Corp.’s two proposed coal-burning power plants in southwest Kansas. But the battles continue. The Kansas State Legislature spent much of its time on the issue. Environmentalists condemned the project for its carbon dioxide emissions, but supporters said it would provide needed energy and help the economy. The plants remain on the drawing boards as the fight moves to the Kansas Supreme Court.