All this week we are taking a look back at some of the top news events in the Manhattan area for 2023. Today we take a look back at the second quarter of the year from April through June with KMAN News Director Brandon Peoples….
1227-KMAN YIR 2nd QTR
Spring was an important time for Kansas State University, which broke ground on two major projects. The first, in April, was an expansion project for KSU Foundation President Greg Willems…
“So this 80,000 square foot building is going to be the next addition into the office and lab and corporate space that we’re making available to attract corporate partners that will strengthen Kansas State and enhance economic prosperity for Manhattan and Kansas,” he said.
Then in May, the College of Agriculture broke ground on a new Agronomy Research and Innovation Center. Department of Agronomy Professor and Department Head Dr. Raj Khosla spoke about some of the perks that will come with the new facility, including a visualization lab.
“Where students are working with a suite of networks and sensors that are embedded in soil and on plants to asymptomatically detect disease or crop stress that may become visible to our eyes five days later to create a plan to address before the crop damage happens,” he said.
May saw a plethora of other activity in the Manhattan area, highlighted by the ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony of the $1.25 billion National Bio and Agro Defense Facility (NBAF). US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was among several who participated in the May ceremony.
“I’m proud of the fact that USDA is going to have an integral role through APHIS and ARS of providing that research and that assurance and I’m very confident after doing a tour of the facility, that we have spared no expense really and making sure this is a safe and secure facility and people are genuinely excited about being able to work here,” he said.
While research likely won’t be conducted on at the BSL-4 lab until late 2024, the ceremony was a milestone for those who helped set the stage for the transition of the U.S. government operations from the Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York to Manhattan, Kansas. Former Sen. Pat Roberts credited late Kansas State University President Jon Wefald at the May ceremony.
“I have truly enjoyed working with everyone every day, every year of this important effort. But I gotta tell you, it’s been one hell of a ride. I am now wearing the sport coat that President Wefald gave me. I know today that he has the best seat in the house,” he said.
Another major project for Manhattan started in May as the Manhattan Regional Airport shut down commercial air service May 12 to begin a $30 million runway reconstruction project. Airport Director Brandon Keazer…
“That pavement has been out on the field since 1979. So the FAA has a classification of useful life of runways and they’re 20 years. Ours is over 40 years, so it’s definitely something that we needed to do. We’ve been talking about it for years and years and here we are, we’re finally finally breaking up the old pavement and putting down the new one,” he said.
For the past several years, Aggieville has been under construction in one way or another. City officials celebrated a milestone in Aggieville in May.
On May 4, the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce cut the ribbon under the Aggieville archway, signifying the long-awaited reopening of the gateway into Aggieville along North Manhattan Ave. Aggieville Business Association Director Dennis Cook.
“We’ve been very fortunate. The businesses down here have all survived this. I won’t say they’ve thrived, but they have survived. We didn’t lose any businesses over this, but they are anxious. Many of the businesses right here on this stretch have not had a car being able to drive in front of them or park in front of them for 11 months. Not a lot of businesses can survive that,” he said.
A few days later, city officials removed the words “Welcome To,” after outcry from patrons online critical that the sign read “Aggieville Welcome To” based on the positioning of the words rather than Welcome to Aggieville. The archway now simply reads “Aggieville.”
The second quarter also saw the announcements of Culver’s and Burlington to open stores in Manhattan as well as Aggieville Brewing Company opening two locations in the city.
The second quarter was also a very dry period for Kansas with several wildfires breaking out in April. In fact, at one point nearly 3,500 acres was scorched in two separate wildfires in the northern and southern portions of Riley County. Governor Laura Kelly issued a disaster emergency declaration due to wildfire activity across the state.
We’ll have a look back at some of the top local news stories from the third quarter of 2023 (July to September) on Thursday.