Time to pick top stories of 2012

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It’s amazing how many important and interesting things can be crammed into a year. This may be one of the toughest challenges we have had for readers to rank the Top 10 stories of the year.

This is the 20th year we have had readers decide on the most important stories. We have kept the descriptions short so we could include as many stories as possible. If there is a story you feel strongly about that isn’t on this list, please add it to the bottom where it says “Others” and give it your ranking.

This ballot will appear several times between now and the noon deadline on Dec. 17. For your ballot to count, it must be clipped from the paper (not a photocopy) and the stories must be numbered, not marked with an “X.”

Rick Doyle can be reached at rickdoyle@wwub.com or 526.8306.

Your top story should be marked as “1.” The second most important story would be “2,” and so on through “10.” All ballots must arrive at the U-B by noon on Dec. 17. We will tally the votes and your Top 10 will be featured in the U-B on Dec. 30. Please vote and drop your ballots off at the U-B office at First and Poplar or mail them to: Top 10, Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, P.O. Box 1358, Walla Walla, WA 99362.

---------------- Authorities arrest George W. Craigen, who is wanted in the shooting death of Cecil “Rob” Carter in Milton-Freewater.

---------------- Redistricting splits Walla Walla County with the western half in the 4th Congressional District and the eastern half in the 5th Congressional District.

---------------- Walla Walla celebrates its sesquicentennial.

---------------- Funding disagreements and other issues lead to The Center at the Park taking back space from the Early Learning Center.

---------------- Mr. Ed’s announces plans to close. The restaurant reopens about a month later with a reduced schedule and menu.

---------------- Walla Walla gets a new fire chief, Bob Yancey, and a new police chief, Scott Bieber.

---------------- Rep. Maureen Walsh’s speech on gay marriage goes viral.

---------------- Gregg Loney says health problems force him to resign as county commissioner. Jim Johnson is selected to take his place and is elected to a full term in November.

---------------- Walla Walla voters pass a sales tax hike of 0.2 percentage points to fund street repairs.

---------------- Police arrest Daniel D. Dodd on murder charges nine months after Kevin Myrick was shot and killed in his driveway, allegedly because he was a potential witness in a drug case.

---------------- Sears closes its store at the Blue Mountain Mall in the spring. In the summer, plans are announced for a Sears Hometown Store to open on Main Street in the fall.

---------------- The mission to eliminate chemical weapons at the Umatilla Chemical Depot is completed.

---------------- The idea of building a parking garage in downtown Walla Walla is discussed.

---------------- The nearly three year investigation of possible financial improprieties in the Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office comes to an end with charges being filed against former Undersheriff Carole Lepiane for the theft of more than $67,000.

---------------- Overcrowding in the state prison system results in plans to reopen units at the prison in Walla Walla.

---------------- Alaska Airlines drops some flights out of Walla Walla. The flights resumed in the fall. The Port of Walla Walla slashes fees to help the airline cut expenses.

---------------- Rising insurance costs and lack of state funding put an end to Dayton Days and Days of Real Sport.

---------------- The state Supreme Court rejects Inland Octopus’ appeal over its sign.

---------------- College Place voters agree to rebuild Davis Elementary School and establish a high school.

---------------- New York Store owner John Saul shoots and kills Cesar Chavira, who broke into the business. A coroner’s inquest ruled the shooting as justifiable homicide. After the inquest, the prosecutor decides not to file charges in the case.

---------------- A wolf or wolves attack livestock near Weston.

---------------- Private businesses take over liquor sales in the state.

---------------- Mathew Fazzari, a DeSales graduate, is killed while serving in Afghanistan. The community turns out to honor him.

---------------- The Rural Library District and the Walla Walla Public Library announce they can’t reach an agreement. The rural district announces plans to build its own library. The Library User Coalition asks for a vote on annexation and recommends the replacing the board

---------------- An agreement with St. Michelle sparks a major expansion at Railex.

---------------- Walla Walla voters resoundingly reject a levy increase to build an aquatic center.

---------------- The Children’s Museum announces it will have to close its doors. A new board takes over with plans to keep it open.

---------------- Walla Walla University announces it is reappointing John McVay as president.

---------------- A fire damages Blue Ridge Elementary School less than a month before the start of school. The fire was later ruled an accident.

---------------- A jury convicts local gang member Benito Gomez of second-degree murder for last year’s fatal shooting of rival Julio Cesar Martinez. Gomez is sentenced to nearly 115 years in prison. Later, gang member Andres Solis is charged with second-degree murder for allegedly being the primary instigator of the confrontation.

---------------- Other: ­­

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