Editor’s note: This is the first in a three-part series counting down the top 10 local stories from 2013.
By TESA GLASS
MT. VERNON — The top 10 local stories of 2013 have been a reflection of the community highs and lows.
Each year, the Register-News editorial staff reflect on the stories which made top headlines for the year, and ranks the top 10, sharing them with our readers.
This year, among the honorable mention stories were the Aquatic Zoo, the Casey Middle School expansion, electric aggregation votes and the failed school consolidation referendum.
The Aquatic Zoo construction began in 2012, with an expected opening in May. However, when May rolled around, delays in state construction permits, unfavorable weather for construction moved the completion date to August — too late for the 2013 swimming season. The AZ was completed, and an opening in 2014 is now planned.
Casey Middle School saw a complete renovation over the summer months, with students getting out of school early and starting school a little later than usual. Students got out of school May 17, and returned to classes on Sept. 3.
The $6 million expansion/renovation project included moving pre-kindergarten students to the Dr. Andy Hall building, and putting all Casey Middle School students under one roof with a larger cafeteria, a safer new entrance and administration areas and new classrooms.
School improvements were on the voter’s minds in April with a referendum for consolidation of Opdyke-Belle Rive, Dodds and Ina School districts.
The referendum needed to pass by a majority vote in all three of the school districts, and failed in the OBR district with 217 ‘no’ votes to 209 ‘yes’ votes. The referendum passed in Ina by a 175 to 97 margin, and in Dodds by 208 to 67 votes.
Voters in the city of Mt. Vernon and the villages of the county voted favorably on the aggregation issue, but those in the unincorporated areas of the county dismissed the referendum — which will be posed to the unincorporated areas again in March 2014.