What was the top local news story of 2010? That’s up to readers of The Meadville Tribune to decide.
The year of 2010 saw a mix of good and bad news, as well as a few major surprises.
Below is a list of top news culled from the headlines by the Tribune staff. Now, it’s up to readers to rank the stories in order by Dec. 13.
Persons may vote by filling out the ballot in today’s Tribune, or by going to meadvilletribune.com and voting electronically. If filling out a paper ballot, return it by mailing it to: The Meadville Tribune, 947 Federal Court, Meadville, Pa. 16335; dropping it off at our office; or faxing it to 724-8755.
Results will be published at the end of the month.
There are more than a dozen top stories to choose from, including (in no particular order):
-Serious concerns about prisoner treatment are raised about the Crawford County jail. An internal investigation has found no violations or mistreatment. In fact, the state gives Crawford County another perfect rating. But some observers are not convinced the jail is safe.
-City of Meadville gets new refuse plan. The new trash-removal contract requires new curbside collection bins — both for trash and recyclables — which is greeted with some residents’ confusion and complaints.
-Crawford County Fair’s huge dairy barn collapses in January under the weight of snow. The company that built the structure files for company’s bankruptcy protection and the county has to rent tents for the 2010 fair while it seeks a permanent solution.
-The race for Pennsylvania’s Third District congressional seat is among hottest in state and nation. In the primary, six Republicans turn out. Come the fall, the intensity continues, as Republican Mike Kelly of Butler defeats first-term Democrat Kathy Dahlkemper.
-Local jobless rate stays high. The county’s unemployment rate starts the year at 10.5 percent in January and stays at or near 10 percent for most of the year.
-Conneaut Lake Park begins to rebound. The 118-year-old amusement park shows slow but continued improvement as it’s open for a full season. The park’s famed wooden roller coaster, The Blue Streak, also gets back on the tracks in September for the first time since 2006.
-Soldier Christopher Fike is killed in Afghanistan. Fike, a soldier from the Conneautville, died in Afghanistan in June. An Edinboro University of Pennsylvania graduate, he was a corrections officer at State Correctional Institution at Albion. He’s the second Crawford County soldier to die in Afghanistan and the fourth to die in the War on Terror.
-Tokyo Spa bust leads to shut-down of business. A Vernon Township “health spa” offering massages faces charges of prostitution. Two women are arrested, later enter guilty pleas and the business then closes.
-Controversy stirs as a tires-to-energy plant application is filed. The application calls for a proposed electricity-producing plant in Greenwood Township that would burn scrap tires as fuel. Residents from around the county and elsewhere are concerned about pollution from the plant. Others argue that the economic benefits are needed and that the plant could be safely run.
-Diamond Park’s Shippen Fountain project draws cheers and jeers. The old Shippen Fountain is removed from Diamond Park and sent to Alabama for restoration, a project praised by many local residents. But the effort draws some controversy as fundraising apparently comes up short of their goal.
n Interstate 80 toll plan is rejected by feds. Plans to have Interstate 80 converted into a toll-road like the Pennsylvania Turnpike again are rejected by the federal government. Area legislators say the plan would have hurt area businesses and tourism.
-After Linesville-area double murder, suspect Gary Wiley faces death penalty. Wiley is charged with allegedly killing Tod Prenatt, 51, and Laurie Prenatt, 44, at their Linesville area home. Prenatt will face the death penalty when the case goes to trial in Crawford County Court of Common Pleas in 2011.
-Lee Yendell gets 17 years for sex abuse conviction. In a high-profile case, Yendell, 42, is handed a 17- to 35-year state prison term by Crawford County Court of Common Pleas for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl at a local campground in July 2008.
-Local Meadville improvements: Bus station, Tim Hortons, C&J Industries. Downtown Meadville sees ground broken for a new bus station for the Crawford Area Transportation Authority; a $6 million dollar plant expansion and remodeling by C & J Industries; and a new Tim Hortons doughnut/coffee shop building.
-County treasurer faces charges; later dies. Crawford County Treasurer Frederic A. Wagner is charged in August by the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation for allegedly pocketing funds from the Crawford County Fair in 2009. Wagner dies in September at his home, the case is dropped, and action is being taken to name his replacement.
- Inmate charged with homicide in guard Gary Chapin’s death. Prisoner Gregory Brown, 24, of Meadville, is charged with homicide after allegedly beating Crawford County Corrections Officer Chapin at the Crawford County jail Oct. 13. Chapin dies Nov. 15 after never regaining consciousness.
-Local food banks drying up. Area food banks have a tough year as they see more and more demand — but empty shelves.
-Bench warrant sweep nabs numerous scoff-laws. The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office in conjunction with the Crawford County Court of Common Pleas searches for those with outstanding bench warrants. The move comes after the court had offered a week of amnesty. Ten people are arrested in the initial sweep, and others nabbed later.