Before we get too far into this new year, we wanted to take a look back at some stories from 2012. So we dug through the archive and chose twelve of the biggest stories we covered in central Nebraska this past year:
ARREST MADE IN COLD CASE MURDER
Our first story begins not in 2012, but in 1989. That's when Cathy Beard disappeared from the Ord bar she was working at. More than two decades later, in January of 2012, police arrested John Oldson, a former Ord resident, for Beard's murder. His trial is set to begin later this month.
DROUGHT STRIKES NEBRASKA
No review of last year would be complete without mentioning the drought that hit central Nebraska hard. Yields were lower than expected after months of no rain, and even though ag leaders say irrigation saved many fields, producers are still looking for alternative feed sources for livestock this winter.
WILDFIRES AND GRASS FIRES
Thousands of personnel worked countless hours to battle wildfires and grass fires that broke out across the state. The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency says over 300,000 acres were burned. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission says two wildlife management areas were completely destroyed and they suffered over $1 million in damage to NGPC property.
DEB FISCHER WINS SENATE SEAT
A crowded field of GOP candidates was narrowed after the Nebraska primary election in May. Republican contender and state senator Deb Fischer would go on to beat former US Senator Bob Kerrey to replace outgoing Senator Ben Nelson.
KEYSTONE XL CONTROVERSY CONTINUES
Transcanada began reapplying to build the Keystone XL pipeline after President Obama rejected it. That meant a series of meetings and public hearings in Nebraska where supporters argued that the pipeline creates jobs while opponents say it's damaging to the Sandhills and Ogalala Aquifer.
GRAND ISLAND CITY LEADER DRAMA
The City of Grand Island had an up and down 2012 with a petition failing to recall Mayor Jay Vavricek, the resignation then reinstation of the city administrator, a drawn out search for a fire chief, and the city council's official reprimand of Vavricek.
INHERITANCE TAX WORRIES
Nebraska counties spent much of 2012 looking for ways to replace the state's inheritance tax. It's money they say they rely on, but it's a tax Governor Dave Heineman has vowed to end.
AG LAND VALUES SOAR
Ag land values soared this past year as producers seek to grow more. Crop land in south central Nebraska sold for $12,000 an acre and more at auction.
BROKEN BOW SCHOOL VAN CRASH
The community of Broken Bow was left reeling after a school van carrying members of the boy's basketball team was struck head on by a pick-up. The driver of the pick-up and two coaches were killed. Multiple students were injured.
BLUE HILL BUS CRASH
Just a few months later tragedy struck several communities in south central Nebraska when a Blue Hill school bus and truck hauling hay collided at an intersection in rural Webster County. The semi driver, bus driver, and two students were killed.
KOT FOUND NOT GUILTY
A jury deliberated over two days in the trial of a Grand Island man accused of murder. Arkanjelo Kot admitted he shot at Walid Omar Aden after the two argued, but said he thought Aden was reaching for a gun. Jurors found Kot not guilty of first degree murder.
EPA FLYOVERS CAUSE CONCERN
Feedlot owners and Nebraska's elected officials tangled with the EPA over the summer after news of flyover inspections being done broke. The EPA says the flyovers let them do more cost-effective inspections, but producers worried about privacy violations.