It’s pretty much unheard of for someone who start a print newspaper these days, but that’s exactly what happened in Andover a year ago. The Andover American made its debut on Jan. 19, 2011 – along with its website – andoveramerican.com - and is now celebrating its first anniversary.
We’ve been too busy to really reflect on our first year until now. But we don’t want to forget just what a significant news year it was. Here’s a look back at the most important events that happened and stories told.
Less than a week after the American debuted in January. City Council member Julie Reams filed paperwork to run for mayor, barely beating the noon deadline on the last day. That was about the same time Andover opened its new City Hall, a $4 million, 27,000 square feet facility that sits next to the library in Central Park.
This might have been the worst-kept secret in Andover, but wrestling coach Terry Alley planned to retire following the state tournament in February. His Andover Central team sent him out on top, securing its first state championship – and the first for Alley in 36 years of coaching. Alley’s career included 17 years at Andover High.
March started with Sen. Sam Brownback speaking to a conservative crowd at Terradyne Country Club, and ended with public forums featuring the candidates for the Mayor, City Council and Board of Education races. Andover’s BOE faced the daunting task of replacing four members with a combined 46 years of experience.
Ben Lawrence was re-elected as Andover’s Mayor in April, but did not survive without a few scratches. Both he and his challenger, Reams, complained of dirty tactics during the campaign, with Lawrence winning about 53 percent of the vote. Byron Stout and Troy Tabor were elected to the City Council, and Caroline Hale won her re-election. Voted onto the BOE were Scott Wilson, Matt Forney, Melinda Fritze, joining the re-elected Roger Elliott and Shane Phillips, who replaced the resigned Jeff Ablah. Meanwhile, the 20th anniversary of the Andover Tornado presented the American with plenty of opportunities to remember the tragedy - and tell its stories of the triumph that came out of it.
Six sets of twins graduated from Andover Central High School in May, the same month it was announced that outgoing ACHS principal Mark Templin would be replaced by his assistant, Cheryl Hochhalter. Java Villa closed its doors, leaving the Andover Public Library without a coffee shop or snack bar. That space remains vacant until the City can determine what the tax ramifications would be should another business open there.
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Father Mike Baldwin left Andover’s St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in June after more than 24 years. He was transferred to Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Pittsburg. Congressman Mike Pompeo hosted a Q&A forum to a standing-room-only crowd at City Hall, and Andover resident Tari Earnst was on the “The Best Doctors in America” list for the second straight year.
In July Tabor, the most unknown of the City Council members, became the talk of Andover for a few days after sharing with the American that he had been kidnapped as a child - and had a stepbrother who was shot and killed while attempting a burglary in 2008. Also, Raymond Dondlinger announced he would be re-opening the Ace Hardware that went out of business earlier in the year.
August was a banner month for Andover schools. Not only did the district reach an agreement with the Andover Education Association, it was announced that test scores in USD 385 were the highest ever. Thinking it would be a slow news month, the American ran a series of articles trying to determine the best quarterback in the city’s history. Brent Wasson was a narrow winner in the online poll, which received nearly 500 votes, while the American gave a slight edge to Zack Siegrist. Meanwhile, an explosion at Global Propane - south of Andover on Butler Road - killed one Wichita man and hospitalized two others.
In September Andover schools treated the 10th anniversary of 9/11 right. Firefighters, students and business professionals from New York City, as well as an officer who was working at the Pentagon the day of the infamous terrorist attacks, shared their experiences with Andover students through a virtual conference.
Greater Andover Days underwent some changes in October, including the inaugural tailgate party that sold out at $10 per space, and enjoyed great weather the whole weekend. Andover Middle School principal Brett White was honored by the Kansas Association of Secondary School Principals and Meadowlark’s Jody Baker enjoyed a trip to Washington, D.C. after being honored by the National Association of Elementary School Principals.
In November ACHS had two senior athletes sign Division I letters of intent on the same day: Jorden Kaufman with Oral Roberts basketball and Megan Sorlie with Notre Dame softball. It was another great month for Andover schools: The Andover Advantage “Prize Patrol” awarded 69 grants, its Saturday academy won a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award and Cottonwood’s Marcie Faust was named the Kansas School Counselor Association’s Counselor of the Year.
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Burt Humburg was a homecoming king at Andover High, his house was destroyed by the tornado and went on to become an All-American football player at Southwestern. But that’s not what he spoke to the American about in December. Humburg shared his experiences and challenges of growing up as a homosexual in the heart of the Bible Belt, and his place in life now that he’s a physician in Iowa. Meanwhile, Andover Plaza lost a couple businesses to Andover Village, a strip mall that spent much of the year mostly empty but is now picking up momentum.
Editor-in-Chief Adam Knapp would like to express a heartfelt thanks to Kristin Baker, Steve Adelson, Derek Tuttle, Beth Sullivan, Jeff Guy, Heather Eslick, Jonathan Craytor, Mitch Gee, Dan Bigelow, Robert Collins and all the other writers and photographers who helped the American tell these stories and many more in its first year.