Top 10 stories
The resignation of a county commissioner following comments that made national news and the indictment of a former Leavenworth police officer are among the top stories in Leavenworth County for 2018. Here is a list of the top 10 stories in no particular order.
• Klemp resigns – County Commissioner Louis Klemp resigned from the commission after he came under fire for remarks he made in which he used the term “master race.”
Klemp made the comments during a Nov. 13 meeting. Speaking to a consultant who was making a presentation, Klemp said, “I don’t want you to think I am picking on you because we are part of the master race. You have a gap in your teeth. We are part of the master race. Don’t you forget that.”
Klemp also has a gap in his teeth.
Klemp’s comments resulted in calls for his resignation from other local government officials as well as the governor.
Klemp resigned from the commission a week later.
He did not attend a Nov. 20 meeting of the County Commission, but his resignation letter was read by County Clerk Janet Klasinski.
Klemp had been serving as the chairman of the County Commission. He was appointed to the commission in 2017 to temporarily fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Commissioner Clyde Graeber.
Graeber resigned for health reasons.
Klemp, who represented the commission’s 2nd District, had been scheduled to serve on the commission until mid-January.
On Dec. 17, Vicky Kaaz was appointed to fill the vacancy created by Klemp’s resignation.
Kaaz was elected in the November election to represent the 2nd District. But she initially was not scheduled to take office until mid-January. The appointment allowed her to begin serving on the commission a few weeks early.
• Officer charged – Former Leavenworth police Officer Matthew Harrington was indicted on a charge of involuntary manslaughter in a 2017 officer-involved shooting.
County Attorney Todd Thompson announced the indictment Aug. 13. The indictment had been returned by a Leavenworth County grand jury.
The shooting, which occurred July 11, 2017, at 1708 Rose St., resulted in the death of Antonio Garcia Jr.
Harrington, 25, was an officer with the Leavenworth Police Department at the time.
Harrington was terminated from the Police Department in January. Police Chief Pat Kitchens accused Harrington of violating the department’s policy concerning the use of deadly force.
The next hearing in Harrington’s case is scheduled for Wednesday.
• Give Me Five passes – Voters approved a measure to expand the County Commission from three members to five.
A group calling itself Give Me Five began collecting signatures in January in order to have the issue placed on the ballot in the November general election.
In June, representatives of the group submitted signed petition forms to the Leavenworth County Clerk’s Office.
A few days later, officials with the Clerk’s Office verified the group had collected the necessary number of signatures to place the issue on the ballot.
The measured passed in the Nov. 6 election.
A special election will be held in March to pick the two additional commissioners.
• Lansing announces plans to withdraw from fire district – In June, the Lansing City Council and the city’s mayor sent a letter to various parties involved in Leavenworth County Fire District No. 1. The letter expressed the council’s intent to withdraw from the fire district at the end of 2019.
Fire District District No. 1 currently provides fire department services to Lansing and High Prairie and Delaware townships.
The district is governed by a board made up of members who were nominated by Lansing and the two townships.
The letter from the City Council and Mayor Mike Smith indicated they plan to split the district’s assets with the other parties. The city plans to operate its own fire department in the future.
In September, attorneys for High Prairie and Delaware townships sent a letter to the Lansing city attorney indicating the township boards want to keep Fire District No. 1 intact and will oppose the city’s efforts to disorganize the district.
In December, members of the Lansing City Council approved a second notice regarding their intent to terminate the interlocal cooperation agreement that established the fire district.
The second notice delays the city’s planned withdrawal from the fire district until June 2020.
• Two-week trial results in murder conviction – Following a two-week trial, Barbara M. Frantz was convicted of killing her estranged husband, Gary, by shooting him in a downtown Leavenworth parking lot.
Frantz, 52, was convicted of first-degree murder July 6.
She had been charged after her husband was shot six times Jan. 27, 2017.
During the trial, prosecutors argued Gary Frantz had identified his estranged wife as the shooter before he died. But defense attorneys argued the victim had been shot by his son.
Officials with the County Attorney’s Office believe this may have been the longest jury trial in the history of Leavenworth County.
Frantz is still awaiting sentencing.
• Woman shoots burglar – Citing state laws concerning the use of deadly force, County Attorney Todd Thompson announced a 74-year-old Leavenworth woman would not be charged for fatally shooting a burglar at her home.
The shooting took place Nov. 24.
The burglar, Ralph Byrd Jr., was pronounced dead at the scene.
The woman suffered a heart attack after the shooting but later was released from the hospital.
Thompson announced during a Nov. 29 news conference that his office would not be filing charges as a result of the shooting.
• Longtime coach fired – Leavenworth High School basketball coach Larry Hogan was terminated after coaching for the school district for 35 years.
In April, members of the Leavenworth Board of Education voted to terminate Hogan from the position of head boys basketball coach. Board members also voted to formally notify Hogan of their intent not to renew his teaching contract for the 2018-2019 school. Hogan had been teaching physical education at Leavenworth High School.
Several supporters of Hogan, including former Leavenworth High School basketball star Wayne Simien, spoke against the board’s action during the meeting.
Board members finalized Hogan’s termination in May by approving a resolution not to renew his teaching contract.
Board members did not publicly comment about the reasons for Hogan’s termination from his coaching position and the non-renewal his teaching contract.
School board attorney Robert Hingula said board members are prohibited from sharing information about personnel matters to the public.
Board members appointed Prentes Potts as the new head boys basketball coach at Leavenworth High School
Hogan is now an assistant coach at Lansing High School.
• Prison reconstruction begins – Officials broke ground in April for the reconstruction of the Lansing Correctional Facility.
The project will result in a new 1,920-bed maximum and medium security unit and a 512-bed minimum security unit.
The buildings are being constructed on the grounds of the existing LCF.
The new minimum security unit is scheduled to open in 2019, and the maximum and medium security unit is scheduled to open in 2020.
• Two fire fatalities – Two Leavenworth fires resulted in fatalities in 2018.
In September, a woman died after firefighters pulled her from the scene of a fire at a duplex apartment at 509 Vilas St.
In December, a man was found dead at the scene of an apartment fire at a duplex apartment at 948 Cheyenne St. Fire investigators believe the man had attempted to put out the kitchen fire.
• Bond issues approved – Voters in the Leavenworth and Basehor-Linwood school districts approved school bond issues.
In a June mail ballot election, voters in the Leavenworth school district approved a $36.7 million bond issue. The bond issue will be used to pay for the construction of a new intermediate center, the conversion of Lawson Elementary School into an early childhood center and improvement projects at other schools.
In a mail ballot election in September, voters in the Basehor-Linwood school district approved a $51.6 million bond issue that will be used to pay for two new elementary schools, an early childhood education center and improvements at other schools.
But in the same election, Basehor-Linwood voters narrowly rejected a $5.5 million bond issue that would have been used to pay for improvements for athletic facilities.