Updated: 12/30/2014 12:00 P.M.
Mid-Ohio Valley residents didn't have to worry about drinking the water, but 2014 was still a busy year for news, thanks to an election, a number of major crimes and an apparent resolution to a more than three-decade murder case (keeping in mind that, with an arrest, that's only beginning to make its way through the court system). And, on the plus side, there was some good economic news, tied, at least in part, to the promise of a "cracker" in Wood County.
So here's my list of the top news stories of 2014:
10. St. Marys and Williamstown High Schools meet in Class A high school football championship; Williamstown wins an overtime thriller, 33-32
9. Parkersburg Police shoot to death suspect fleeing after a purse snatching at Grand Central Mall.
8. Notable deaths: former Wood County Circuit Judge Daniel Douglass, former Williamstown City Councilman Ed Garber, Parkersburg South High School Principal Tom Eschbacher, Blennerhassett Middle School Principal Jim Hostottle, Parkersburg News and Sentinel reporter Jolene Craig, former WTAP employees Charles Helmick and Maynard Reynolds, and Bernice Wilson, widow of WTAP's Glenn Wilson.
7. Development announcements: new motels in Parkersburg, Rural King fills vacant retail building in Park Shopping Center, search for a new tenant for Coldwater Creek facility, which closed in July.
6. Audit of Parkersburg High Stadium Field bleacher renovation slams Wood County Board of Education.
5. Fires damage Marietta Industrial Enterprises, EnviroTank plants.
4. Murder cases highlighted by arrest of Curtis Richards, who flees to Mexico after death of a one-year old child in Parkersburg.
3. January leak from a Kanawha County chemical plant contaminates water in nine West Virginia counties.
2. Republicans sweep local, state and national elections-Shelley Moore Capito becomes West Virginia's first elected female U.S. Senator, John Kasich wins second term as Ohio Governor.
1. Arrest in 33-year old unsolved murder of Washington County deputy Ray Clark.
Stories to watch for at least the early months of 2014: the West Virginia Legislature's new Republican leadership, city-wide elections in Marietta and Belpre (and presidential campaign launches for 2016), and-although it wasn't on my top 10 this year, the ongoing legal case involving the sheriff's office in Athens County.
In other words, The News Center will be as busy this coming year as we were this past year.
2013 was a diverse year for news stories; with no major severe weather, accidents or trials dominating the news. That does not mean, of course, there were not a lot of big news stories this year.
Here is a list of what I consider the biggest news stories we covered during the year:
10. Wood County Schools Superintendent James Patrick Law, 911 Director Randy Lowe announce they are leaving their posts; successor named to outgoing Mid-Ohio Valley Airport Manager Terry Moore.
9. Parkersburg High School Stadium Field's bleachers get extensive renovation after being condemned in late 2012.
8. Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly investigated for allegations of destroying criminal records.
7. Deaths of notable people include: Vienna Volunteer Fire Chief Danny Goodwin, Parkersburg Catholic and Tennessee basketball standout Mary Ostrowski, businessman and philantropist Charles Erickson, former WVU-Parkersburg President Eldon Miller, former U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson, RESA V director and former PHS principal Ralph Board, and Parkersburg News and Sentinel Executive Editor James C. Smith.
6. Marietta High School graduate Lance Cpl. Josh Taylor dies during training exercise in Nevada.
5. Richard Poore accepts plea deal more than 30 years after the death of his son in Pleasants County; Stockport, Ohio mayor sentenced for multiple sex offenses.
4. Lawsuit against Parkersburg Mayor and Police Chief dismissed while new allegations of police brutality by city police officers surface.
3. Two murder cases and the discovery of a missing Parkersburg man's body in the Ohio River in Washington County.
2. Ormet Aluminum's plant in Monroe County, Ohio shuts down after the company files for bankruptcy.
1. West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announces plans to build an ethane cracker plant in Wood County.
For those who believe we don't cover both sides of the river, note that these are divided almost evenly between West Virginia and Ohio. There are also stories from both states which had considerable coverage on our station and web channel which took place outside the area, and which did not make the "Top 10" list: stories like the Steubenville, Ohio rape trial (the victim was from West Virginia) and the Mingo County corruption scandal which came to light after the murder of that county's sheriff. Both received national as well as state and regional attention.
Although I believe it represents the biggest stories of the year, it is just one person's list.