A criminal retrial that puts to rest an 11-year-old disappearance, and a civil trial over mammoth school bleachers top the Northwest Herald's list of the 10 most newsworthy local events of 2013. A jury earlier this year convicted Mario Casciaro of his role in the 2002 disappearance of Johnsburg teen Brian Carrick. And a judge earlier this month ruled that District 155 should have gone through the Crystal Lake zoning process when it erected a bleacher expansion that neighbors allege is too large and an eyesore. Decisions made by our state lawmakers that affect us locally figure prominently in this list, and unlike previous years is a list of what they accomplished rather than what they did not. Locally, change has come to a taxing body in charge of county mental health funding, and three longtime county officeholders will be calling it quits next year. Heavy spring rains and flooding and a police shootout in Richmond round out this year's list.
The saga of "Obamacare" — as the Affordable Care Act is widely known — received 45 first-place votes out of the 144 ballots cast for the top 10 stories. The marathon bombing received 29 first-place votes and the papal transition 21.
The past 12 months brought plenty of memorable storylines. There were championships, near misses and the personalities that were behind them. Looking back, we offer the Top 10 stories of 2013 as voted on by the Northwest Herald sports staff.
With the national economy plodding ahead, it was a busy year for business in McHenry County. Much of the local business news was mixed. McHenry County's unemployment rate continued to fall, hitting 6.8 percent in October, its lowest level since December 2008. Even as some big manufacturing companies added jobs and laid out plans for expansion, others closed or moved out of state. Home sales increased significantly in 2013 and the county's home prices started going up for the first time this year since the housing bust.
There were "Scandals," "Blurred Lines," "Gravity"-defying performances, a "Sharknado" and a Kardashian baby. And it was all hosted by Ron Burgundy. In 2013, pop culture had something for everybody to love, hate or just discuss endlessly. But there were a few stories that seemed to catch everyone's attention whether at the water cooler or in line at the grocery store. Did you watch the Video Music Awards? Could you believe it about the death of that young star, or was it another hoax? Were you caught up on Breaking Bad? Netflix can help. With such varied platforms for entertainment and spectacle, there was plenty to talk about in 2013.
McHenry County residents had a lot to do in 2013. In a year full of great theater, music, comedy and events that have become a tradition for area families, there was plenty to see and do. For every event that made our list of the Top 5 local entertainment stories of the year, there are a dozen more that could have made the cut, such as the debut of the first Haunted Square in Woodstock or the opening of The Other Side non-alcoholic club in Crystal Lake. In our list of five, we highlight the events that brought McHenry County to the national stage, with a visit by Rihanna and appearances by area residents on two national television shows, the triumphs, such as community efforts to save the McHenry Outdoor Theater and the TownSquare Players, and the farewells, as Trail of History ended after 25 years. With so much local talent, McHenry County was a fun place to be in 2013.