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Column: Running down 2013’s next-best news stories


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As a newspaper reader, I find the year-in-review stories interesting and informative.

We’ve published a bunch of them during the past couple of weeks, especially in the Dec. 31 edition of The Republic, which had an entire 12-page section devoted to the top stories of 2013, day-by-day and month by month.

There’s so much that happens in a given week, much less a whole year, that it’s hard for me to keep it all stored in my brain.

With all of the stuff I have stored in my noggin over time, you have to clear some of the “cache files” to make room for new information. That’s the story I’m sticking with, anyway.

When The Republic’s top-ranking editors selected the top 10 local stories for 2013, there were some significant ones that didn’t make the top 10 list. That’s a strong indication that Columbus is a vibrant market and a good news town.

Since you already read last week which stories were the biggest or best in 2013, here are others that got at least one vote for the top 10 ballot, in order of finish.

11

Columbus faces tight housing market

Preliminary results of a housing survey in August indicated problems in the upper and lower ends of the Columbus market, which has added several thousand jobs over the past few years without new residential construction keeping up. But the development of several Columbus apartment complexes that opened in 2013 provided some relief for would-be renters as the year wound down. Single-family housing was also on the upswing.

12

Cummins Inc. experiences mixed results

The region’s largest employer in March was named the No. 1 company in America by The Motley Fool, a multimedia financial services company. But less than two months later, first-quarter earnings for the enginemaker were off 38 percent compared to the prior year on weaker global demand for products. Toward the end of June, Cummins announced a $15 million warehouse expansion that would consolidate 80 employees from various company locations and add 25 new workers. The company’s second-quarter sales were up 1.6 percent in late July, although earnings fell 11.7 percent over the prior year.

The company had a huge announcement in August that it would build a new light-duty diesel engine in Columbus for a new global partner, Nissan, which will ultimately add 500 local jobs. The final quarterly report for the year showed improvement over the third quarter of 2012, in both sales and profits, but the company’s stock price dropped 5.2 percent after the engine maker lowered its outlook for the full year based on weaker-than-expected sales.

13

Tony Stewart makes news on, off the race track

We saw a lot of Tony Stewart last year as the native son helped fund a program in May to improve city playgrounds, including one at Mead Village Park — near where he grew up — with a racing theme. In the latter part of July, Stewart delighted hometown fans by racing at the Bartholomew County Fairgrounds, although mechanical problems forced his early exit. And then in August, he broke his leg during a sprint-car race in Iowa, which brought his racing season to an early end.

14

Hostess bankruptcy has local repercussions

Early in the year, a Georgia-based company submitted a successful $390,000 bid to purchase some Hostess Brand assets, including the shuttered Columbus bakery on National Road. But as the year ended, there was nothing on the near horizon about plans by new owner, Flowers Foods Inc., for the Columbus plant, which in its boom years employed 600 workers, making it one of the city’s largest employers. The remaining 200 local employees lost their jobs when the plant closed in November 2012.

15

Family fights to exhume body of Columbus man

The sister, mother and son of 49-year-old Cary Owsley of Columbus, whose April 7 shooting death initially was ruled a suicide, won a victory seven months later when a judge ruled that the family could exhume the body to have an autopsy performed in efforts to determine if the coroner’s original ruling was correct. The family members have doubts that Owsley could have taken his own life, and sought an autopsy — never requested by local authorities — to prove what happened. Three sheriff’s department deputies were reprimanded over the handling of the Owsley death scene.

16

FairOaks Mall sold after months of uncertainty

Month after month, the 25-year-old retail center on Columbus’ 25th Street faced being sold in a sheriff’s foreclosure sale, only to escape at the last minute when the lender asked for postponement. Foreclosure never did occur, with ownership transferring on a quit-claim deed, meaning the previous owner relinquished title to the property. The new owner, identified near the end of the year, is New York real estate investor Gabriel Jeidel.

17

International School of Columbus closes early in its fifth year

There were early signs that trouble was brewing at the local charter school, starting when a new building wasn’t ready for the start of the fall 2013 school year, followed by the late-September resignation from Head of School Jonah Sims for personal reasons. A month later, the school shut its doors, deep in financial debt.

Those were seven pretty important stories. Without murder cases, a running marathon or a plane crash among other top local news stories, any one of them could have made it into the top 10.

As we start a new year, don’t hesitate to let me know what kind of news you think means the most to local readers. It might just sway our decisions.

Tom Jekel is editor of The Republic. His column appears each Sunday. You may reach him by phone at 379-5665 or by email at tjekel@therepublic.com

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