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It’s a different Top 10 list in 2020

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | Dec 28, 2020

This week’s edition of the Faribault County Register includes our annual Top 10 News Stories of the Year. We do this every year, in the last issue of the Register of the year.

I know what you are thinking. “What if the biggest story of the year happens during the last week of the year? Then you would not be able to have it on the Top 10 List, would you?”

True. But we are willing to take that risk. It is usually a slow news time for the week between Christmas and New Years.

This year’s list is different from the normal for several reasons. And, yes, one of those reasons is COVID-19. Never have we had one topic be a part of more than 65 stories in the Register over a year’s time. And the first story did not even appear until after the Ides of March.

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic could have accounted for the first five stories of our Top 10 list, but we combined them all together.

No. 1 could have been how schools had to go to distance learning, events such as graduations and proms had to be held outdoors in parking lots, or canceled altogether.

No. 2 could have been school sports being shut down, then resurrected, then shut down again, then resurrected once more.

No. 3 could have been how all the events, such as town celebrations, Relay for Life and the county fair, were canceled or scaled way back to just a drive-through event.

No. 4 could have been all the CARES Act funds that came into the county, to all the cities, towns and townships. It was an immense amount of money (the county alone received $1.7 million) which made a big impact locally.

And, No. 5 might have been the impact of all the shutdowns of businesses, churches, restaurants and the like. Some were hit so hard economically we wonder if they will all survive.

You get the idea. COVID-19 and all its effects on all of our lives for the past nine months has been the dominating news story, here and around the whole world, as well.

We can only hope that next year at this time COVID-19 has dropped way down on the Top 10 List, or dropped off of it completely. Or that it is on the list because it has gone away.

There are a couple of stories usually on our list which do not appear this year.

Almost every year the weather, particularly bad weather events, makes an appearance on the Top 10 list. Last year it was our choice for No. 3, the year before, in 2018, it actually was our No. 1, top story of the year.

But not this year. It didn’t even make the cut.

Another story not on this year’s list is The Three Sisters saga.

Those three empty buildings were our No. 8 story last year (along with the sale of the former Winnebago School building).

In 2018 The Three Sisters was our top, No. 1 story of the year. In both 2017 and 2016, it was our No. 6 story of the year.

This year, nada. The Sisters also did not make the cut. There were a couple of stories about the Sisters and the buildings’ owners during the year, but the story was just that, so far, not much is happening with them.

Our hope is that next year they crack back onto the list because some progress is being made.

Another type of story not on this year’s list is the big crime story.

Sure, there was plenty of crime going on around the county, but nothing worthy of cracking the Top 10 List, at least in our opinion.

Another type of story not on the list are ones about animals. This past year both Winnebago and Blue Earth dealt with dangerous dog designations. There were also the stories about cities trying to control having pot-bellied pigs, chickens, ducks, bees, deer and too many dogs and cats in one household.

We also did not consider ‘tribute’ type stories for the Top 10 List. We had several feature stories about some wonderful, well-known folks who died during the year. Those included Judge Doug Richards, Myrna Pirsig, Dr. Jerry Thoreson, Jerry Kabe, Andy Huynh, Gordy Saunders (who was celebrating his 110th birthday at the time of the story, but died shortly after), and this week, Al DeLeon.

So, there you have it, the story behind the Register’s Top 10 Stories of 2020 List.

As usual, you may have other stories in mind for the list, or possibly a different order, and we couldn’t argue with that.

But this year, wearing a mask, socially distancing, businesses and restaurants forced to close, restrictions on size of gatherings, and stay-at-home orders, it would be very difficult to make a case for something other than COVID-19 being the top story.

Our wish for you, and all of us, is that 2021 can be a year full of good news stories for our next Top 10 List. And that none of them have to do with you know what.

Let’s all try and have a great new year.