Here is a look back at local stories that made news this year. Stories are sorted by category and are being featured Thursday morning on Kicks 96 and 101.7 The Point.
We begin our look back at 2019 by remembering some of the weather stories that made headlines. The Whitewater Valley doesn’t often see tornado touchdowns, but got more than its fair share this year. Weather headlines, though, started in January.
- Heavy rain and melting snow causing flooding that caused multiple road closures in late January.
- Six days later, the issue was the cold. The temperature on the 30th dropped to eight below.
- One of the more significant tornadoes touched down near West Alexandria in mid-May.
- It was in June 15 that three tornadoes struck, including one that did heavy damage to the Richmond Mall. "I swear, I thought I was gonna die. I thought I wasn't gonna see my family again," said Jeremey Kantrell, who was nearby when the tornado struck. Other tornadoes touched down that night near the Richmond airport and near Bentonville in Fayette County.
- The first major crime story of the year in the Whitewater Valley came in early February, when an Ohio Highway Patrol trooper in Preble County was arrested for groping multiple women who he pulled over.
- There was a stabbing death near Uptown Richmond in early February.
- Less than two weeks later, a 17-year-old was shot and killed on Grand Boulevard.
- The body of a murder victim was found by a Rumpke driver in Preble County in late May.
- In August, a Preble Shawnee bus driver was charged with driving drunk with children in the school bus. "I can't do sober!" said Amy Jones during her sobriety test. She’s not a school bus driver any longer.
- In October, the mother of Dennis Intermediate School shooter Brandon Clegg was charged criminally in connection with events leading up to that incident last December. Prosecutors say York was well aware of her son’s mental health issues, neglected medical care for months, and gave him access to guns.
- And, late on Halloween night, a Test Intermediate School assistant principal was arrested for driving drunk and fleeing police.
We continue our look back at the year that’s ending by looking back at events that affected the local economy.
- It began in late January, when Richmond Mayor Dave Snow announced Richmond Rising, which would lay out the city’s direction for the next decade. "Together, we make Richmond rise," Snow said.
- Also in late January, the first of what would be several auction dates was scheduled for the now vacant Elder-Beerman building downtown.
- The last day of February brought an announcement that Needler’s Market in Eaton would close.
- In mid-march, Fayette Regional Health System in Connersville announced that it would go up for auction. The successful bidder a few months later would be Reid Health.
- Speaking of Reid, the hospital made multiple purchases of large chunks of real estate. In mid-April, Reid announced that it had purchased buildings in Cambridge City. Reid would also purchase the former K-Mart building in Eaton and the former County Market building in Richmond.
- Richmond lost a downtown icon in April. "It just wasn't working anymore. There was too much payroll, and then we had a lot of construction in the back for years," said the owner of Joy Ann Bakery, which closed for good.
- Governor Eric Holcomb was in Richmond in June to cut the ribbon on the new Blue Buffalo plant. "It's another great day in Richmond, Indiana. I'll tell you that," Holcomb said. Blue Buffalo will employ 165 people.
- Another major closure announcement came in early September when it was learned that Richmond’s K-Mart would close after 40 years.
- It began on the first day of the year, when new Wayne County Sheriff Randy Retter was sworn in.
- In late January, Richmond learned that it had received approval for funding for Phase II of the bicycle path project known as “The Loop.”
- In April, RP&L General Manager Randy Baker announced the utility is facing a huge cost to clean up 400,000 tons of coal ash. "Our cost of doing that is $55.5 million," Baker said.
- In May, Wayne County Council and Commissioners discussed discontinuing their relationship with the county’s health department after ongoing disagreements and personality conflicts.
- In late spring, Wayne County towns on U.S. 40 discussed a proposal from INDOT to reduce U.S. 40 to one lane in each direction with a turn lane in the middle. Everyone said thanks, but no thanks.
- In mid-July, a ribbon was cut to mark the end of downtown construction that clogged city streets for well over a year. "The end result has made it worth it - to see how it looks now," said Mayor Dave Snow.
- The city of Richmond and Wayne County dealt over the summer with allowing off-road vehicles like golf carts and snowmobiles on public streets and roadways. The county gave approval. The city did not.
- In September, Phillips Drugs sued the city and other entities after construction caused water to seep into their downtown building. That lawsuit is still pending today.
- In October, Common Council decided against an ordinance that would prevent semis from parking in residential driveways.
- Last month, Richmond Mayor Dave Snow was elected to serve for four more years. "We've gotten a lot done, and that's really created the momentum to propel us through the next four years," Snow said.
- Also last month, after years of debate, it was finally decided that wastewater at the Gateway Industrial Park would be treated through a new, local system.
It seems like every year, there are local stories and events that just leave you shaking your head.
- In late January, a Richmond man was arrested in Connersville when he went into a restaurant and began punching himself in the face.
- In mid-February, not only did a man break into a Richmond home, he took a shower there, put on the resident’s boxer shorts, climbed into the victims’ bed, and went to sleep.
- In March, a car burglar was arrested for breaking into a vehicle on Grand Boulevard in Richmond and eating the Starburst candy inside…but just the red ones.
- There was a gruesome hoax in Fayette County in early June. Someone had placed what appeared to be a decapitated body along Gray Road. It caused passers-by to stop and call police.
- In August, Richmond police were searching for a naked scooter rider. It turned out the man wasn’t naked, but was actually wearing salmon-colored shorts.
- Without a doubt, the strangest thing that happened this year happened in Preble County in August. That’s when a group of kids playing in a creek near West Alexandria noticed a large, live crocodile in the water. "We praise God that somebody was on the bridge that happened to observe it. We could have all been in the water, and it would've been a whole different story," said an adult in the area. There was never any definitive word on how the full-sized crocodile ended up in Bantas Creek.
We’ll wrap up our annual look back at the year that was – as we always do – by remembering the good news stories.
- In late January, we learned that a Connersville doctor had died and left his fortune to charity. Do you remember how much? It was $57 million.
- In early February, everyone survived uninjured when a plane slid off the runway and across State Road 227 at the Richmond Municipal Airport.
- In mid-February, first responders were honored at the Indiana Statehouse for their response to the Dennis Intermediate School shooting incident.
- A few days later, we learned that Wayne County would see a significant reduction in the number of overdose deaths from the year before.
- In March, an international publication called Richmond the best small city in the United States in which to buy a home for less than $100,000.
- Just in time for Memorial Day, a Huey helicopter was placed at Veteran’s Park in the gorge in Richmond as a tribute to those who fought in the Vietnam War. "It's always amazing to me to come down and see one monument and then there's three more and then three more after that," said Vietnam vet Bill Engle, who will be sworn in as a Richmond Common Council member next week.
- A miracle occurred in Richmond in mid-June. A toddler fell out of a window at the Nine North Apartments. The child fell four stories, but landed on a soft bed of mulch and was virtually uninjured.
- In October, a Seton High School baseball player taught us that teenagers can do many positive things. "You can help me either throw 50 times or hit 50 times in a day," said Luke Leverton, who raised well over his original $5000 goal to rehab McBride Stadium.
- And, just a few weeks ago, New Paris got a six-figure gift to help rehab the former C.R. Coblentz school grounds. "It's a miracle for Christmas," said one village leader.
That’s a look back at the good news stories from the year, and it wraps up out look back at 2019.