The Anniston Star has compiled what we believe to be the top 20 head-turning, brow-raising, jaw-dropping news stories of local interest for the past 365 days.
Take a look. Did we get the order right? Did we leave any off?
You be the judge.
… and Happy New Year.
20. Longtime incumbent Calhoun County Commissioner Robert Downing is unseated in the November elections.
19. Woes for Oxford city projects: after running afoul of Army Corps of Engineers guidelines concerning historic Indian sites, the city had to pay a construction company thousands for NOT working.
18. Incumbent Circuit Judge Joel Laird is unseated in election on the heels of news reports about tax liens against his business, Courthouse Café.
17. Ongoing tension at Weaver City Hall leads to council members filing a lawsuit to determine the legal residency of the mayor.
16. Long-delayed Coldwater Mountain bike project gets moving after an Anniston Star story exposes that the Annis-ton City Council had let the project languish for nearly a decade.
15. Former State Trooper James Bonard Fowler pleads guilty to Civil Rights-era killing, of Jimmie Lee Jackson – years after Fowler admitted to the killing in an interview with Star editor John Fleming. Investigation into other Civil Rights-era cold cases continues.
14. Local economy limping as unemployment continues to hover just under 10 percent. Car dealers bounced back, but foreclosures remained high, and officials announced more plant closings, such as the recent one at Ohatchee's American Firewear.
13. UAB and state dentists challenge the nonprofit status of locally based Sarrell Dental Clinic following the clinic’s success at treating the poor.
12. Jacksonville State University gets its first doctorate program. The university was approved to begin offering doc-tor of science degrees in emergency management.
11. Jacksonville and surrounding communities show up en masse for the funeral of local soldier Kyle Comfort, who died May 8 during combat in Afghanistan. A fringe religious group out of Kansas had threatened to protest the ser-vices.
10. Payton Thornton, who was born with a rare life-threatening skin disease, gets to come home to White Plains from a Minnesota hospital after a successful bone marrow transplant from his younger brother, Paxton.
9. The Eastern Parkway’s latest phase nears completion and gets an official name – Veterans Memorial Parkway.
8. The Anniston City Council employs an obscure and rarely used power to conduct an inquiry into alleged wrong-doings at City Hall, the thoroughness of certain police investigations and alleged corruption in the county judicial system.
7. The incinerator has destroyed 75 percent of the chemical weapons stored at Anniston Army Depot, with the mis-sion projected to be complete in 2011.
6. McClellan Development Authority – finally – gains the ability to operate after legal challenges fall apart.
5. Calhoun County blasts its way into history with its first truly White Christmas on record. Not only did we get measurable amounts of snow, but some areas recorded as much as 3 inches of the white stuff.
4. Jacksonville State University opens its new stadium to rock-solid crowds after its fan base was galvanized by a season-opening win against SEC opponent Ole Miss.
3. Alabama Crimson Tide defeats Texas for the national championship, with Heisman trophy winner Mark Ingram leading the way. And Auburn is set to play Oregon for the national championship with its own Heisman winner, Cam Newton, leading the way.
2. Republicans, including gubernatorial candidate Dr. Robert Bentley, solidly defeat the Democrats in the November elections, and state Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, is named Senate president pro tem. The GOP claimed control of the Legislature for the first time since Reconstruction, while also sweeping the state constitutional offices.
1. State Sen. Jim Preuitt and 10 others are indicted in October as the result of a federal investigation into a vote-buying scheme to get a bingo bill passed in the Legislature. Preuitt had switched from Democrat to Republican, and ultimately backed out of a run for re-election.