Top stories of 2017

A proposed poultry plant that faced local opposition. An officer-involved shooting, and the release of a high profile inmate. These were among the top stories in the Leavenworth Times during 2017.

Here is a list of the top 10 stories as determined by the Times staff. The stories are listed in no particular order.

 

Tyson plant

On Sept. 5, officials with Tyson Foods announced plans to build a $320 million poultry complex south of Tonganoxie. They said the facility would employ about 1,600 people. The proposal faced immediate opposition from many area residents.

On Sept. 18, Leavenworth County commissioners voted to rescind a resolution that had expressed an intent to issue industrial revenue bonds for the project. The following day, an official with Tyson Foods announced the company was putting its plans for Leavenworth County on hold and looking at other locations.

On Nov. 20, Tyson officials announced they now plan to open a poultry complex in Humboldt, Tennessee.

 

Officer-involved shooting

A Leavenworth police officer fatally shot a man July 11.

The officer was sent to 1708 Rose Street to investigate an alleged stolen vehicle, according to a news release from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

County Attorney Todd Thompson has said there also was an alleged domestic dispute at that location.

After the officer made contact with Antonio Garcia Jr., an altercation ensued. The officer fired at Garcia, according to the KBI.

Garcia, 47, Leavenworth, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The incident remains under investigation by the KBI.

 

Manning released

Chelsea Manning, the soldier who leaked thousands of classified documents to the WikiLeaks website, was released from the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth on May 17.

Manning, who was formerly named Bradley Manning, was sentenced in 2013 to 35 years in military prison for leaking classified information while serving in the Army.

Shortly before leaving office in January, former President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence, resulting in the early release.

The U.S. Disciplinary Barracks is a male military prison. Manning, who is transgender, changed her name to Chelsea Manning in Leavenworth County District Court after arriving at the USDB.

 

Wisner trial

On Aug. 30, a jury convicted former physician assistant Mark Wisner of sexually abusing patients at the veterans hospital in Leavenworth.

The crimes occurred between 2012 and 2014 while Wisner was working at the Eisenhower VA Medical Center.

On Nov. 3, Wisner was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison for one felony count of aggravated criminal sodomy, one felony count of aggravated sexual battery and three misdemeanor charges of sexual battery.

 

Immaculata closes

May 24 marked the final day of classes for Immaculata High School.

After more than 100 years of operation, the Catholic high school in Leavenworth closed its doors forever.

The high school's end was determined in January when the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, accepted the recommendation of the Board of Directors of the Leavenworth Regional Catholic School System to close the school, citing declining enrollment.

 

New LCF

Officials with the Kansas Department of Transportation have been proceeding with plans to construct a new prison facility on the grounds of the Lansing Correctional Facility.

In February, KDOC officials announced they were exploring options for constructing a new facility to use in place of existing LCF structures.

KDOC officials are moving forward with a lease-purchase proposal for the project submitted by CoreCivic.

Under the proposal, CoreCivic would design, build, finance and maintain the facility for a 20-year period. KDOC would continue to staff and operate the facility.

Plans for this proposal were presented to the state Legislature's Joint Committee on State Building Construction last month.

On Dec. 20, the proposal was presented to the Legislative Budget Committee.

 

Multi-vehicle crash on Turnpike

Five people were killed July 11 in a multi-vehicle crash on the Kansas Turnpike in southern Leavenworth County. Two semitrailers caught on fire as a result of the crash.

The crash occurred on Interstate 70 near 174th Street.

Chuck Magaha, director of Leavenworth County Emergency Management, said the "horrific accident" was one of the worst he has ever seen.

 

Changes to County Commission

The makeup of the Leavenworth County Commission changed in January when Doug Smith joined the board.

He was elected to the body in the November 2016 election.

In June, the commission filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate contracts of several county employees. The petition for declaratory judgment argued that the previous commission's approval of multi-year employment contracts "was an attempt to bind successors in matters that are fundamental to the administration of county government and usurp the authority of the present Board of County Commissioners."

The case is still pending.

Commissioner Clyde Graeber resigned from his position on the commission at the end of September because of health reasons.

Louis Klemp, who previously served on the commission, was appointed to fill the vacancy in October.

On Oct. 30, commissioners voted to terminate three employees whose contracts were targeted in the lawsuit.

Mollie Hill, who was fired from the position of county counselor, was hired the following month by Sheriff Andy Dedeke to serve as the general counsel for the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office.

 

Alliance Against Family Violence

The Alliance Against Family Violence closed in November, but officials are hoping to reopen the organization.

The Alliance has traditionally provided services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Leavenworth County.

Financial issues were cited as the reason for the temporary shutdown.

The Leavenworth Child Advocacy Center, one of the programs that previously was operated by the Alliance, has been taken over by the First Judicial District CASA Association.

 

November election

The general election in November for city and school board races saw the defeat of several local incumbents.

In the race for Leavenworth City Commission, newcomers Jermaine Wilson and Myron “Mike” Griswold were elected. Current Commissioner Mark Preisinger was re-elected as well. But two other commissioners, Lisa Weakley and Charles Raney, were unsuccessful as they ran for re-election.

In the race for Lansing Board of Education, incumbent Beth Stevenson won re-election. But two other incumbents, Rich Hauver and Dr. Richard Whitlow, were defeated. Newcomers John D. Dalbey Sr. and John Hattok were elected to the board.

In the past, the election for city offices and school boards took place in the spring. But state lawmakers moved the election to the fall.