Brace yourselves. Top 10 lists are coming.
Here's mine - a top (13) list of the stories I got to work on this year that left a unique impression on me from bad to fantastic and life-changing.
They're in no particular order.
1. Pride Parade celebrating 10 years Sunday - Read it again here.
Remember the slideshow? - It's here.
Always our most popular event we cover, the Pride Parade gets more traction than anything else we do. It's a close running with the Faulkner County Fair Parade, which is also colorful and exciting and full of bright people, but in a different way. For a while our Conway Pride Parade was the big one, but now Little Rock has won out in their inaugural year. They're attracting more attention.
2. Monkey named Joey goes ape on office, escapes - Read it again here.
It's just how it sounds. Joey was observed on security camera rifling through office supplies, tossing pens and pencils in the air, and messing with the fat orange cat that posts up on the clinic counter so he can get scratched behind his ears during office hours.
3. Starstruck Video closing after 21 years - Read it again here.
The way people consume media changes more often than the small guys can keep up with. But it's even harder to stay open as a relic of times gone by when you have mounting legal fees for selling K2, the synthetic marijuana substance some people market as incense. This store had the movie I had been looking for that I couldn't even find on the Internet. A lot of people loved Starstruck Video and have fond memories of it.
4. Alternative learning teacher is Conway's Teacher of the Year - Read it again here.
Trinina Pouncy is a boss. Any middle school teacher is brave beyond me, but one who chooses to teach the students who require even more endurance - well.
5. The Presidential Inauguration - The images are here.
The further from my memory the 29-hour bus trip gets, the more I can focus on the immensity of walking through D.C. with more than 1 million to see the U.S. celebrate the inauguration of President Barack Obama's second term in office.
6. Gimme shelter - Read it again here.
Anyone who knows me knows I'm about animals. As reporters we sometimes have our causes. My heart breaks when I think of domesticated animals that don't have shelter. It's no secret there are countless in this part of the U.S., while in the east there are well established animal control ordinances that have almost completely controlled the homeless animal population. Faulkner County got along enough to finally agree upon an ordinance that should begin to make a difference. A big step toward responsibility on our part, and a story I had been wanting to get out for quite a while.
7. Pegasus-era pipelines have dirty history - Read it again here.
Talk about burying the lede. Fifty year old reports from government agencies brought to our attention by local activists explain the type of pipeline running through watersheds in this area that provide drinking water to hundreds of thousands of our residents were just waiting to explode. It was just a matter of when and where. March 29, 2013, Mayflower.
8. Veteran nurse was on the front lines of WWII - Read it again here.
Brutality of war is no respecter of sex. On Veterans Day we typically feature the men of military service, but this 93-year-old veteran woman of WWII shows another side of conflict that is also terrible and traumatizing. As it says in the story, 70-year-old memories bring her to tears in an instant.
9. Art, culture and commerce surround Crystal Bridges - Read it again here.
You might as well go. Reading about my experience isn't going to cut it, especially since Crystal Bridges and the coolest hotel I've ever been to, 21c Museum Hotel, are so close to home. Possibly most fun I've ever had on an assignment, and that's saying a lot.
10. B&H Shoe Repair owner explains craft in a throw-it-away world - Read it again here.
Going inside this little shoe repair shop downtown feels like a great step into the past, but who will you see coming through the doors? Senators, cowboys, wealthy women with Manolo Blahniks, and a guy named Henry.
Henry, the man who sleeps on the storefront bench, is a pillar of the place. No one really asks why.
11. Acxiom's goods on you revealed - Read it again here.
This story is in the list because you may work hard at a story for a week and get little or no response or input. This story on the other hand was engaging because it prompted a response from almost everyone who seemed to read it. Everyone in our office and presumably around the country was engaged in different versions of this story because it was about them. Not many stories are about everybody.
12. Edmondson is our 'hat lady' - Read it again here.
A story for every hat. A hat for every story. And cornbread if you will listen.
Myra Edmondson is to me a fine example of a lady. It's not only about her standards, which are that no woman is completely dressed without a hat. It's more about how lady-like she is and how at 92 she gets up each morning and presents herself spectacularly about town. She bakes delicious cornbread, maintains her garden and large but tasteful home, and keeps pictures of herself as a young lady in a stark white bikini beside her bedroom closet.
13. Ecosystem may long feel effects of oil spill - Read it again here.
Digging in a ditch that day made me feel like a real journalist. I was surprised to find heavy crude oil in drainage routes in the city of Mayflower six months after the oil spill. It was also in several forms in the watershed though Exxon and Unified Command agreed freestanding oil had been cleared.
There are many more stories I worked on this past year that had an influence on me as a person. I wonder what the next year will bring.