June 15, 2024

OTTAWA – In the spirit of the holiday, here is KOFO’s Top 10 news stories for 2009. No. 1 is a question – is there something to global warming? After this year, is there any doubt? Weather experts say as the overall temperature rises, weather changes are more abrupt, violent and extreme. That would describe the weather in 2009. There was a series of severe thunderstorms that created floods, and devastating wind storms. If it weren’t for all of the other weird weather, the July 8 windstorm would normally qualify as the top story of the year – winds of more than 100 miles an hour destroyed the Village Inn Motel and severely damaged the Ottawa airport and several airplanes and ripped down miles of power poles and lines. But the weather news wasn’t all bad – the constant rains were perfect for the county’s soybean crop and the result was a record harvest the number-one county cash crop. No. 2 — actually three number twos. 2A is the state budget crisis as the state virtually went bankrupt because of the poor economy and because legislators refused to raise revenue while continuing to hand out tax exemptions to a variety of well-connected business and special interest groups. But because the state constitution forbids the state to go into the red, governors Kathleen Sebelius and Mark Parkinson made a series of painful cuts in state funding. Which brings up 2B – school districts across the state and in the area slashed budgets, laid off personnel and chopped programs after losing hundreds of thousands of dollars. And 2C — state cuts in funding and Medicaid hit the state district courts, health and social agencies – the heaviest cuts hit the Elizabeth Layton Center, which had to absorb about a million in unexpected losses this year. No. 3 – people lined up and rolled up their sleeves because of H1N1 swine flu. Although experts worried that the swine flu had the potential to be the next Spanish influenza, which killed millions and virtually paralyzed many big cities after World War I, it turned out to be less deadly than expected. But to people with other medical problems, it could still be deadly. At 24 people in Kansas died, including a Franklin county man. No. 4 –highly-publicized trials in Franklin County. A Franklin County jury ruled that the shooting death of Sky Cadarette by her friend Mark Sherman at his birthday party was manslaughter, not second-degree murder. And Ottawa pastor Kent Mathews was acquitted of the charge that he stole from an elderly congregation member. No. 5 – although it didn’t occur in the area, the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller in Wichita had many local ties. Scott Roeder, who said he killed Tiller to save unborn children, came through the county along I-35 and was captured just outside the county line near Gardner. Ottawa city commissioner Sarah Humm became a media star because she got a photo on her cell phone of Roeder’s car shortly after his capture. No. 6 — Ottawa University’s football and women’s soccer squads, and Ottawa’s American Legion baseball team went to national tournaments. No. 7 — Ransom Memorial Hospital announced a $9 million expansion and improvement project – and doesn’t have to go into debt to do it. The construction project is under way and despite a series of rain and snow storms remains mostly on track. No. 8 – A mass murder in Burlingame sparked new debates across the state about domestic violence programs – or the lack of them. James Kraig Kahler of Columbia, Mo., is accused of following his estranged wife Karen to Burlingame during Thanksgiving and killing her, his two teenaged daughters and Karen Kahler’s grandmother. No. 9 — A fire wiped out a downtown block in Osage City in April. The damage was estimated at more than $1 million. No. 10 — Farming is one of the more dangerous occupations in the U.S. Three separate farm accidents killed a 25-year-old Ottawa man earlier this month and injured an elderlyO man and a Pomona teen earlier this year.

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