Archive for Thursday, January 1, 2009

The top stories of 2008

Selections include highs and lows of last year

The Kansas Jayhawks go wild after their 2008 NCAA National Championship win over Memphis at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

The Kansas Jayhawks go wild after their 2008 NCAA National Championship win over Memphis at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

January 1, 2009


2008's top 6News and LJWorld stories

This year's top stories include tax hikes, coal fights, tragedy and triumph. Enlarge video

Top-clicked stories were a diverse group

From machine guns to tornadoes, no story was more popular that the Jayhawks' basketball championship. Enlarge video

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.

1. KU National Champions

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.

2. Election 2008: City sales taxes pass

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.

3. KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway steps down

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.

5. New Athletic Fields for city’s high schools

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.

6. Double homicide on Delaware Street

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.

7. Orange Bowl Champions

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.

8. State budget falls apart

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.

9. Last Call closes

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.

10. Fight over coal-fired power plants continues

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.


XEPCT 9 years, 1 month ago

I understand the local flavor of the selections, but I would say Mr. Obama being elected was a bigger story than the one about power plants.

kujayhawk 9 years, 1 month ago

I would put the Orange Bowl win much higher since it's never been done before by a KU team. A bar closing makes the Top 10? Huh?

George_Braziller 9 years, 1 month ago

For those who lived within shooting distance of Last Call it was definitely a top 10 local story.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 9 years, 1 month ago

This is horsecrap. The real top ten stories in Lawrence:10. Local auto dealers continue to flood the city with autos that do not have turn signals or headlights tha work in pre-dawn darkness. But the parking lights work fine!9. The term "city leaders" takes on new and alarming insignificance.8. The mosquito population in the Haskell Swamp continues to grow and prosper in violation of city ordnances regarding standing water.7. Sports announcers continue to find new infuriating ways to gabble, dribbble, and avoid the fact that a game is in progress with incoherant drivel interviewing Boone Pickens during a critical OSU game play.6. Dillons finds new ways to confuse and infuriate customers with it's never-ending "improvements" to it's 23rd street store toin order to compete with HY-Vee for the highest-priced grocery market in the city.5. Brick streets and roundabouts continue to befuddle local residents wordering which Wheaties box the traffic planners of the city got their education degrees out of.4. TV sports outlets continue to up the ante as to how many commercials they can cram into the last 20 seconds of a close baskerball game.3. Lew Perkins discovered more ways to screw KU fans out of tradition and local support.2. City commissioners discovered new ways to pjurchase more yard signs the only truly effective way to get elected in a brain-dead electorate.1. There is no number one. The above deficiencies are plenty adequate for the citizens of this community to be saddled with.

pissedinlawrence 9 years, 1 month ago

ah, i remember all the last call crap happening this time last year

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