One of the fun things I get to do in this job – and one of the hardest – is compile the Top 10 News Stories of the Year list.
It is always surprising to me how much time this takes. It takes at least two full days and a couple of evenings to get it all done – reading through a year’s worth of papers, compiling lists, narrowing them down and trying to determine which is the top story. Then changing the order a few times.
Not to mention the time to write it up.
Did you notice a theme in this year’s list? It seems to be composed mainly of construction projects and people.
For the first time there are no weather calamitys, no disasters, no big crime stories on the list.
Of course, the list is purely just an opinion. There are no hard and fast rules as to what should be on it, or in what order they should be.
Arguments could easily be made to change the order, or have something else on the list altogether.
For instance, the controversy over choosing a new meal provider for the Faribault County Law Enforcement Center did not make the list.
Neither did the $3 million Blue Earth Airport runway project. The controversy surrounding it put it as No. 4 on our list last year, but not this year.
This year the story was that the first year of the two year project was successfully completed.
Court stories also did not make the cut.
There were drug cases, burglaries and sexual assault cases in several towns, and a fight at USC schools that resulted in students suspended.
None were on the list, although perhaps they could have been.
So too could have been the story of a processing plant in Wells that was to have opened in 2011 and did not, the county judge on a medical leave and a large raise for one area city administrator.
Not on the list this year.
There was a nearly million dollar housing rehab program in Blue Earth, and a large housing rehab project in Wells and Winnebago as well. Clearly an argument could be made that these are important and should be on the list.
But, again, they were not.
There were stories about employee issues which were also not on the list.
An employee of Blue Earth Area Schools was charged with theft, the streets supervisor in Wells was fired and a police officer in Wells put on leave.
Last year a county sheriff deputy being charged was No. 8 on our list.
Hardly any of last year’s stories were repeated this year. In fact there is only one.
Go Minnesota (now FCDC) and its new director (Doug Uhrhammer) was No. 3 on the list. This year FCDC and its new director (Linsey Warmka) is No. 4 on the list.
Last year the election results were No. 1, issues with city administrators No. 2.
The vote to eliminate the ward system was No. 5.
There is a chance that election results and eliminating the wards could be stories again this year that will appear on our 2012 list.
So too might some of the items on this year’s list.
Hopefully there will be stories early in 2012 that will be about the new police chief in Blue Earth and the new superintendent at Blue Earth Area Schools.
Both have at least a potential of making the Top 10 list next year. The search to fill these positions each made the list this year.
But for different reasons.
Hiring a new police chief has been awash in controversy and delays.
The story about hiring a new superintendent was about the speed with which the BEA board expects to fill the top leader spot.
I thought finding a new superintendent would take a full year to accomplish.
The board, however, seems to be on track to get it accomplished in two months – virtually just January and February.
Wonder if the Blue Earth City Council is paying attention to that fact?
It will be interesting to see what stories in 2012 develop and make the Top 10 list next January.
We wish nothing but good news for you this year.