Gingerbread house sale, auction Saturday

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Finney and Kearny counties is hosting a gingerbread house art silent auction and sale Saturday inside the courtyard of Horace Good Middle School, 1412 N. Main St.

Featuring gingerbread houses created and donated by more than 100 local high school art students, the proceeds from the event will go to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

There will be drawings for prizes, as well as holiday decor offered at the event. Admission is free, and refreshments will be provided. Pictures with Santa will be available for $5.

The gingerbread houses also will be judged by local artists, and the winner will receive a $500 scholarship, donated by Garden City Community College

Tammy Davis, director of BBBS, said that in addition to high school students, fifth- and sixth-graders who participate in the after-school program also have contributed their own creations to the auction. She said that some of the pieces will be on display in the window of the Windsor Hotel.

For more information about the auction and sale, contact Davis at 275-2424.

Santa Claus coming to Garden City

Santa will be appearing downtown Saturday and Dec. 14 and 21 at 105 W. Chestnut St., right next door to Patrick Dugan's.

The Garden City High School Enrichment students will be taking pictures of children who want to sit with Santa, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Dec. 14 and 21. Pictures are $10 each and will be in 4-by-6 size or emailed in .jpg form for your individual printing needs. All of the proceeds will go toward support of Enrichment Community Based Learning.

For more information, contact Ron Whited or at 805-5543.

Legion Riders breakfast Sunday

The American Legion Riders Community Breakfast is scheduled for 8 to 11 a.m. Sunday at 405 S. Main St. The menu will feature biscuits, gravy, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, potatoes, French toast, coffee and orange juice.

Cost for the all-you-can-eat meal is $8. Family members of deployed service men and women eat for free. The cost for children age 8 to 13 is $5; children age 7 and younger eat for free.

Community caroling set for Saturday

"Old Tyme Christmas Caroling," a community sing-along with the Salem Mennonite Choir, will take place Saturday.

The public is welcome to join in the caroling or just come and listen from 6:15 to 7 p.m. at Stevens Park in downtown Garden City.

Senate leader plans to toughen 'Hard 50'

TOPEKA (AP) A proposal for strengthening the "Hard 50" murder sentencing law in Kansas is likely to be considered next year by legislators, with a top Senate leader promising Thursday that he'll push for the measure's passage.

Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce said he's drafted a bill to revise the law, which allows defendants convicted of premeditated, first-degree murder to be sentenced to serve at least 50 years in prison. The proposal from Bruce, a Hutchinson Republican, comes only months after legislators had a special session to fix a flaw in the law.

Bruce said he wants to make the "Hard 50" the presumed sentence for first-degree murder, with judges allowed to give a lesser punishment at a defendant's request in some circumstances. Kansas law currently requires prosecutors to seek the Hard 50, with juries deciding whether it's warranted instead of a sentence of life in prison with parole eligibility in 25 years.

The law had said judges would decide on "Hard 50," based on the circumstances of a crime, such as whether a defendant tortured a victim or fired into a crowd. But in June, the U.S. Supreme Court said in a Virginia case that juries, not judges, had to determine whether to impose mandatory minimum sentences, and Kansas lawmakers made the fix during a two-day session in September. Lawmakers open their regular, annual session Jan. 13.

"It makes a 50-year sentence without the possibility of parole the default position," said Bruce, an attorney and former Reno County prosecutor. "It's more secure, gives more closure to the victims."

In Kansas, the only penalties tougher than the "Hard 50" are capital punishment and life without parole, the alternative to death in a capital case and a sentence also possible for some habitual sex offenders.

Gov. Sam Brownback called legislators into special session this fall to fix the "Hard 50" law in hopes of preserving the punishment in more than 40 cases in which defendants haven't been sentenced or that are on appeal. The Kansas Supreme Court has heard one case and is considering three more next week.

"Would we want to let that run its course?" said Rep. James Todd, an Overland Park Republican and attorney who serves on the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee.

Todd also said he'd hesitate to change the law as Bruce proposed because it would be "shifting the burden" in criminal cases to the defendant.



Kansas Legislature:


Follow John Hanna on Twitter at .