2011 was unique, to say the least.
While there were the usual "big" stories, I can't think of many that dominated the news for long periods of time. That means it was difficult to come up with a "top ten" list of stories that people talked about during 2011, and a lot of stories which were talked about were left off the list.
I would love, for instance, to highlight the fact that my alma mater won its first bowl game ever, and that Marietta College went to the NCAA small college tournament for the first time in years, but there were other stories which topped those.
I included two Parkersburg stories...the user fee and the F.B.I. investigation of some police officers because of the impact they could have in the 2012 elections.
Here is my list...as always, subject to comment:
1. Parkersburg City Council, in spite of protests from the Parkersburg Tea Party and just about everyone commenting on the internet, passes a $2.50 user fee.
2. Elections: Voters overwhelmingly repeal Ohio Senate Bill 5, Earl Ray Tomblin is elected to remainder of unexpired term of West Virginia Governor, Warren Local School Levy is rejected multiple times by voters.
3. Parkersburg Mayor requests F.B.I. probe into several incidents involving city police officers.
4. Wood County Sheriff Jeff Sandy survives attempt by former deputy to remove him from office.
5. Chief Petty Officer Nicholas Null is killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, Private First Class Kyle Hockenberry loses both legs in an I.E.D. explosion in Afghanistan.
6. Murder cases: Vienna doctor John Ralsten accused of the murder of his wife, Landon Evans sentenced for the 2008 death of his newborn child in Marietta.
7. Wood and Washington County authorities raid "Bath Salts" sales establishments just as laws banning the would-be drug are passed in West Virginia and Ohio.
8. West Virginia Native Landau Eugene Murphy, Junior wins "America's Got Talent" and performs at the Smoot Theatre.
9. Notable deaths: Wood County Delegate Larry Border, former circuit judge George "Skip" Hill, former Washington County commissioner Sam Cook, former Marietta mayor and city councilman Jim Schweikert, and Eugene "Sonny" Hague, local attorney and father of 9/11 victim Mary Lou Hague.
10. Vietnam Memorial Wall replica attracts thousands to Parkersburg City Park on Labor Day weekend.
Yes, I could have mentioned the August earthquakes, the Mr. Bee Potato Chip bankruptcy, the wild animal escape in Eastern Ohio, and the Craigslist killing case, much of which involves Noble County, Ohio. Most of those are ongoing stories and might still make next year's list. But then, if the recent prognostications turn out to be correct, the top story of 2012 might be that the world comes to an end. When Ted Turner was once asked how the then-new CNN might cover that, he said, it would play "Nearer My God To Thee", and sign off. Maybe it's current owners, Time Warner might opt for a different close by one of its "iconic" cartoon characters: "Th-Th-Th-That's All Folks."