By Ashley Luthern
Business news and politics dominated the front pages of The Vindicator in 2012.
From a $200 million investment by General Motors to presidential campaigns descending on the Mahoning Valley, the news never stopped. Here are the top 10 news stories as selected by Vindicator editors and staff:
1 New Year’s Eve Quake/Shale drilling.
The Jan. 1, 2012, front page of The Vindicator described the fallout from a magnitude-4.0 earthquake that struck the Valley shortly after 3 p.m. New Year’s Eve.
In March, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said what many suspected: D&L Energy Inc.’s brine-injection well in Youngstown caused 13 earthquakes since March 2011.
Injection wells, used for disposal of brine, or fracking wastewater, and drilling wells continued to dominate discussion at public meetings, where officials debated leasing mineral rights to public lands and attempted to ban injection wells.
2 Downtown changes.
It was a year of beginnings and endings in Youngstown’s downtown.
New bars, restaurants and apartments opened along Federal, Commerce and Boardman streets; the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute moved in; Eastern Gateway Community College welcomed students to its new Valley Center on East Federal Street; and the Covelli Centre, which Youngstown’s mayor is open to selling or leasing, is expected to end 2012 with about $475,000 in operating surplus and admission-tax revenue.
But the iconic Youngstown Club is closing its doors Tuesday after 110 years.
3 Murder in the news.
Several high-profile murder cases ended this year, while another one began when 8-year-old Bryce Linebaugh was shot to death while sleeping in a bunk bed in his East Side home.
Shawn Wilson, 21, is accused of indiscriminately shooting into the residence Aug. 20, and his trial is set for January.
In May, charges were dropped against Jamar Houser, 21, who spent two years in jail facing a capital-murder charge. New evidence linked the 2010 murder of 80-year-old Angeline Fimognari, who was shot to death in a church parking lot, to now-deceased convicted felon Duane Colvin, 32.
The year ended with sentences being doled out to those who were convicted of having a role in a 2011 shooting at an off-campus party near Youngstown State University, where Jamail Johnson was killed and 10 others were wounded.
Columbus Jones Jr., 24, was convicted by a jury in Youngstown of the murder and felonious assaults and was sentenced to 92 years in prison. Jamelle Jackson, 20, was sentenced to 90 years to life in prison; Mark Jones, 26, was given 10 years in prison and Demetrius Wright, 22, who faced less serious charges, was sentenced to three years of probation.
4 NAMII investment in Youngstown.
The $70 million National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute opened in September in downtown Youngstown, representing a new chapter in the manufacturing technology.
The institute is a collaboration among 65 colleges, universities, private companies and nonprofit organizations to improve additive manufacturing, which basically uses plastics, resins and metals to “print” a product by adding layers, unlike traditional manufacturing, which subtracts or cuts out raw material to create parts.
5 Campaign 2012 focused on Ohio and the Valley.
Presidential and vice-presidential candidates and their surrogates racked up the frequent flier miles coming to the Valley. Although some visits went smoothly, others weren’t so picture-perfect.
In July, President Barack Obama visited Dobbins Elementary School in Poland, where he was introduced by a man who had improperly taken “trade secrets” from a previous employer and ordered by a judge to pay more than $500,000 to the company.
Former president Bill Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden packed Youngstown’s Covelli Centre in October, but at least 100 people were left out in the cold and rain when the rally started early.
However, no visit received more national attention than vice-presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s stop at the St. Vincent de Paul Society Dining Hall. The campaign’s plan was to have Ryan serve breakfast, but his rally at YSU ran late so the campaign asked dining hall volunteers not to clean a few clean pots and pans so that Ryan and his family could have a photo opportunity of cleaning them. The photo and his use of the facility in a politcial campaign triggered controversy for weeks.
6 Signs of economic recovery.
The signs were there: increased employment, shrinking unemployment and a growing labor force in the Mahoning Valley.
The unemployment rate for Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties combined dropped to 7.2 percent in October. There also were 500 fewer people unemployed in the Valley, an increase of 1,300 jobs, and the local work force grew by 1,000.
The housing market continued to improve as home sales increased, and the Valley saw a 21 percent increase in median sale price, from $60,000 in November 2011 to $72,650 last month.
7 Cynthia Anderson to leave YSU.
After becoming Youngstown State University’s first woman, first Youngstown native and first YSU graduate to assume the university presidency, Dr. Cynthia Anderson announced in December she will retire July 1, ending a four-decade-long career at YSU.
During her tenure, YSU announced plans to expand distance and online course offerings, opened the $12.3 million Watson and Tressel Training Site, started construction of a $4 million sports complex and revealed plans for a new Veterans Resource Center.
She also faced challenges of faculty negotiations and two years of declining enrollment, and took an active interest in the 2011 off-campus shooting that killed a YSU student and injured 10 others.
8 GM boosts Cruze investment.
Strong sales of General Motors Lordstown-built Chevrolet Cruzes led to an August announcement that GM was investing $200 million into the factory to build the next generation Cruze.
The announcement assures the retention of about 5,000 jobs between GM’s Lordstown and Parma plants into the next decade.
9 Gains and Macejko fight.
A text message sent three years ago became a flash point in the Democratic primary for Mahoning County prosecutor.
Racist text messages about President Obama and Bassil Ally, an assistant city prosecutor, were alleged to have been sent by city Prosecutor Jay Macejko, who was challenging incumbent prosecutor Paul J. Gains.
Ally had sued the city and Macejko for discrimination and was awarded a settlement.
In the end, Gains won a fifth consecutive four-year term and Macejko, who had the county Democratic Party Central Committee endorsement, was fired by Mayor Charles Sammarone after an internal investigation.
10 V&M Star sends out first pipes.
Continuous production of pipes began rolling from V&M Star’s new mill in Youngstown on Oct. 26 as shale development around the country boosted demand for small diameter oil and gas pipe connections.
The new mill will create 350 jobs and be capable of producing up to 500,000 metric tons of seamless pipe yearly.