Mt. Vernon Register-News

December 28, 2012

Top stories of 2012 countdown

By TESA GLASS
tesa.glass@register-news.com

MT. VERNON — — The year 2012 has been one of ups and down, unbearable temperatures, growth in the city and county as well as disappointments.

The Register-News looks back at what we rank as the top 10 local stories of the year. We will be counting them down during the final days of 2012.

Not making the list, but worthy of note in a countdown is the petition to consolidate Opdyke-Belle Rive, Dodds and Ina Grade Schools. The petition to consolidate has been approved by Hamilton-Jefferson County Regional Superintendent of Schools Ron Daniels and is waiting the approval of Illinois Superintendent of Schools Christopher Koch.

This year was a big election year, with the Primary and General Election. One issue that is still outstanding from the Primary is that of who will be declared the winner of a contested primary for judge in the 2nd Judicial Circuit between Eric Dirnbeck and Kent Renshaw.

Renshaw contested the results of the March 20 primary for the position to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Judge E. Kyle Vantrease. Dirnbeck was the apparent winner of the 12 county election with 4,063 votes — only 42 more votes than Renshaw received circuit-wide. Renshaw filed the petition for a discovery recount of votes on April 30 in Franklin County. Since that time, motions have been presented by both sides, with court rulings going through October, when the court ruled to suppress the results of the Nov. 6 election until the issue of which candidate won the primary is determined.

The final honorary mention story is a new festival committee, a new branding concept for the city and a new purpose.

After working on branding the city, a new branding concept was adopted. “Mt. Vernon — Creativity Redefined” was approved and is being brought to life by celebrating creativity in the city through festivals, events and the Broadway Market, which is slated to be created in the former Armory Building.  In addition, the city Festivals Committee was formed, and brought the King City the Fall Fest with plenty of new events and a parade full of marching bands and music.

Coming in as number 10 in the top local stories is the beginning of the Veterans Memorial Drive/South Davidson Avenue expansion projects.

The expansion project has been in the works for several years, but residents began seeing the dirt fly and concrete poured on the project after Baxmeyer Construction won the bid at $1.104 million in May. Work on the roadway itself is estimated at 98 percent complete, work to the sewer lift station along the street is 75 percent complete and sidewalk paving and general cleanup are still outstanding.

Coming in at number nine is the renovation and construction at Casey Middle School.

Students were the dignitaries who broke ground on the expansion project in October during a special ceremony. The renovation and expansion of the campus will mean the pre-kindergarten students will be moved to the Dr. Andy Hall building, and the Casey Middle School students will be on one campus. The expansion will mean a larger cafeteria, a safer new entrance and administration area as well as new classrooms. Also in October, District 80 Board approved issuing $3.5 million in bonds for the project, which is on track to be completed in August 2013.

Tomorrow, the countdown continues with the stories coming in eighth through fourth are reviewed.