An Even Dozen of Top Stories of 2014

Ivan Potter & Mary Potter

Who needs 10 top stories when 12 will do? Here are our picks for the big stories we saw in 2014:

1. The Election of 2014: A year of politics and political spending ends with predictable results and some surprises. Which is which depends on who you were rootin' for. WKJ's political picks for Election 2014:
- Incumbent Senator Mitch McConnell soundly defeats challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.
- Former state senator independent Bob Leeper becomes McCracken County Judge, defeating Democratic and Republican candidates;
- The rise of the independents - Leeper was just one leader who switched from one political party to none. Calloway County Judge Larry Elkins and Fulton County Judge David Gallagher also went independent. Elkins handily won another term. Gallagher did not run again.
- The US Senate moves into Republican hands. McConnell becomes leader of the US Senate. Both houses of Congress in GOP hands for the first time in X years.
- Kentucky House stays in Dem hands. Kentucky Senate stays in GOP hands.

2. The Polar Vortex of January and February of 2014. Icy winds swept down from Canada and stayed and stayed.

3. Rise of Hemp - Murray State grows experimental hemp. Support for hemp production led by James Comer and Rand Paul make inroads. Legalization of marijuana in Colorado with resulting tax dollars didn't hurt the cause. (Yes. We know the two crops are different. Just sayin')

4. Central Business District buildings fail. Murray suffered the greatest losses in 2014 with a building collapse and disastrous fire. With no intervention from state or federal funds on the horizon, more buildings may be at risk.

5. New Life for an Old Crop: West Kentucky (Owensboro) Tobacco Research on Ebola produces medical treatment of the ebola virus.

6. Jackson Purchase being left behind. Area of slowest job growth. Broadband development lagging. Employers closing - Population shrinking. Fulton County passes a right to work local ordinance.

7. Death of Judge Mike Miller - the champion of Marshall County and Democratic politics in December leaves a gap in leadership in the region.

8. Murray State gets a new president. Again.

9. Construction on new bridges across the Lakes begins. When finished, bridges will create greater travel opportunities into the Purchase. Closure of Eggner's Ferry Bridge scheduled.

10. McCracken County Judge Van Newberry indicted. End of year surprise: State Auditor Edelen finds financial irregularities in office. Story developing.

11. Governor Beshear and Kentucky get national attention for rolling out a successful version of the Affordable Care Act.

12. Mid-Continent University in Mayfield suddenly closes. Students are left with big bills and no degrees.