Sun December 30, 2012
Big Things Happened in 2012
You can't say 2012 was uneventful for Louisville and the surrounding areas.
The year that (soon) was gave plenty of good news and some awful, terrible news, too. Here's an incomplete list of the big things that happened in 2012.
In February, relief for cross-state commuters came when the Sherman Minton Bridge re-opened after an emergency closure in September 2011. The closure tested the patience of thousands of commuters between Indiana and Kentucky, who were mostly forced into daily traffic jams on the Kennedy and Clark Memorial bridges.
In March, tornadoes tore through parts of southern Indiana and central Kentucky, killing several people and destroying homes, businesses and schools. After the storm, WFPL's Eric Peterson wrote of Henryville, Ind.:
The main street is clogged with rescue vehicles, blue and red lights flashing. Behind barricades, emergency workers check for survivors. When they move on, they mark each house with an "X."
Indiana State Police Sgt. Jerry Goodin says the job is unimaginably huge: a three-county area of destruction, with hundreds of miles of rural roads.
"The worst case scenario happened for us. We had multiple tornadoes, and it happened all of a sudden," he says. "We knew there was a possibility that something like this would happen, and we were trying to prepare. There's no way you can prepare for something like this happening."
The community could use a distraction, and got a pleasant one (depending on your rooting interest) in that shared pastime of Kentucky and Indiana. In early April, the Kentucky Wildcats defeated the Kansas Jayhawks to win the program's first national championship since 1998 and eighth overall. The championship came after the Wildcats defeated the Louisville Cardinals in the national semi-final, sparking the celebratory immolation of couches in Lexington.
In June, the owners of Holiday World in Indiana announced that they wouldn't re-open the shuttered Kentucky Kingdom under a new name, Bluegrass Boardwalk, after all. The state has yet to settle on a new operator to re-open the park.
A daytime shooting in the Parkland neighborhood rattled the city in May. It initially left two people dead and several others injured. Soon after, a woman, Makeba Lee, was fatally shot on the street as Louisville Metro Police worked the crime scene. The brazen shooting led Mayor Greg Fischer to create a violence work group, which issued recommendations in October for addressing violent crime.
In October, the derailment of a Paducah & Louisville Railway train carrying dangerous chemicals in southwestern Jefferson County — near West Point, Ky. — led to evacuation and shelter-in-place orders. The derailment took days to clean up and inconvenienced not only residents near the derailment site, but also travelers on Dixie Highway.
The 2012 general election in November saw President Obama re-elected and left U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth as the only Democrat left in Kentucky's congressional delegation. In Louisville, the Jefferson County Public Schools board elections sent candidates who supported the district's student assignment plan.
Soon after in November, University of Louisville Hospital officials announced that they'd achieved something akin to a goal from 2011 that was foiled — a partnership with KentuckyOne Health. The year before, University Hospital, Jewish Hospital and Catholic Health Initiatives attempted to merge, but Gov. Steve Beshear rejected the plan.
Not long after, UofL again made headlines, this time in athletics. With the Big East Conference being picked apart by other leagues, UofL announced that it would be joining the more stable Atlantic Coast Conference. The move, likely to happen in 2014, puts Louisville in the company of schools with strong basketball programs and also strong academic standing, such as Duke and North Carolina.
There's plenty that happened that's not mentioned here. Feel free to let us know in the comments what you think 2012's top stories are.