Stories-of-the-year packages often feature subject matter that leans toward the darker side.
Entries rarely include positive features that interest many readers but fail to generate the type of traction dour news elicits. More likely are stories about natural disasters, corrupt officials or nefarious criminal activity.
This year’s Leader-Telegram list of top Chippewa Valley news stories for 2017 has its share of weather-related calamities (a tornado in Chetek; summer flooding), controversies involving community leaders (the Altoona superintendent and short-lived tenure of the Confluence Arts Center’s executive director) and criminal activity (officer-involved shootings in Eau Claire; methamphetamine use).
However, there also are several inclusions with more positive themes. Topping the list of the Leader-Telegram’s top news stories are the travails of Gordy’s Market. The local company grew from two stores to 26 in a dozen years. By the end of this year, 20 had closed.
“The growth happened so fast, it just wasn’t organized,” Dan Schafer, head of finances for the business, told the Leader-Telegram. “It was a lot more complex than we originally thought.”
But in a rise-fall-rise story arc, after much legal wrangling the Schafers will retain six stores, including two in Chippewa Falls. In the end, a family will continue to serve a region in which it has deep roots.
Development in the region was aided by Mills Fleet Farm, which is putting the final touches on a large distribution center in Chippewa Falls and will open a store on Eau Claire’s south side. The company’s aggressive growth ranked No. 7 on the Leader-Telegram list.
Also earning a spot on the list was news that the city of Eau Claire broke a record for new construction over the first eight months of 2017. “With about $265 million related to building permits issued for new buildings, plumbing, electrical and heating systems through the end of November, the city shattered its previous record of $196 million for 2009,” read a Leader-Telegram story.
Rounding out the top 10 were announcements by state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, and Rep. Dana Wachs, D-Eau Claire, Democrats who will be challenging GOP Gov. Scott Walker in the 2018 election.
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There’s little we can be sure of as 2018 gets under way Monday. Hopes include a soothing of political divides that have plagued our nation, an eradication of sexual assault and harassment infractions, fewer natural disasters and the demise of terrorism.
On a decidedly lighter note, the wish list also includes a relatively tame winter (though with just enough precipitation to support our snow-related industries), the continuation of a bustling arts scene in the Chippewa Valley and a return to playoff form for the Green Bay Packers.
As far as what we can control (at least theoretically), a survey from market research company YouGov found that three responses tied for the most popular New Year’s resolution: eat better, exercise more and spend less money. Self-care (such as getting more sleep) and read more books rounded out the top five.
Here’s hoping your personal pledges will be met over the next 12 months, especially those that are at least somewhat realistic. Have a happy new year, and may our list of top stories a year from now include even more tales of growth and prosperity in the Chippewa Valley.