Our Picks For The Top 10 Stories Of 2012

WFIU/WTIU reviews the top 10 stories of 2012, including election upsets and a record-breaking drought.

1. Elections

The 2012 primary and General Election brought some surprises. Richard Mourdock beat six-term Indiana Senator Richard Lugar in the Republican primary. Mourdock went on to make some controversial comments about rape during a debate.  He dropped in the polls and was defeated by his Democratic opponent Joe Donnelly in the general election.

In another upset, the Democratic candidate for state superintendent, Glenda Ritz, defeated incumbent Tony Bennett. As StateImpact Indiana reported, Ritz’s campaign was bolstered by teachers unions who were upset over many of Bennett’s initiatives, including new teacher evaluations and a state school letter grading system.

2. Drought

Indiana and the Midwest saw a record-breaking year in terms of weather. At one point about half of the state was in extreme or exceptional drought. Final numbers during the harvest season showed corn yields were down 40 percent from 2011.

3. Right to Work

Earlier in the year, Indiana became the 23rd state to pass so-called right-to-work legislation, limiting unions’ bargaining rights. The debate had been going on for more than a year, and sparked days of protest at the Indiana Statehouse.

4. Statewide Smoking Ban

Indiana legislators passed a statewide smoking ban, although it does include exemptions for bars, taverns and clubs. Anti-smoking advocates say the ban does not go far enough, but many businesses say the law that passed still violates their private rights.

5. Tornadoes in Southern Indiana

Several towns in Southern Indiana were devastated by a series of tornadoes that swept through the area in May. Henryville was one of the worst hit, but residents there were determined to rebuild from the beginning.

  • Henryville High School

    Image 1 of 7

    Photo: Gretchen Frazee/Indiana Public Media News

    The insides of Henryville High School are exposed after a tornado pulled off the walls of the school.

  • Gas station

    Image 2 of 7

    Photo: Gretchen Frazee/Indiana Public Media News

    The metal frames from a gas station in Henryville, Ind. twist together after a tornado ripped through the town.

  • school bus

    Image 3 of 7

    Photo: Gretchen Frazee/Indiana Public Media News

    The tornado threw a school bus into a Henryville resident's house where several people were taking shelter in the basement.

  • Two men walk through fallen trees

    Image 4 of 7

    Photo: Gretchen Frazee/Indiana Public Media News

    Two men walk through fallen trees amid house wreckage.

  • emergency worker

    Image 5 of 7

    Photo: Gretchen Frazee/Indiana Public Media News

    An emergency worker walks down one of the main streets in Henryville, Ind.

  • Henryville Church

    Image 6 of 7

    Photo: Bill Shaw/Indiana Public Media News

    A church in Henryville has turned into a supply center for people affected by the tornadoes.

  • volunteers work on the roof of a habitat home

    Image 7 of 7

    Photo: Jinghua Tu/WFIU-WTIU News

    Volunteers work on the roof of a home in Henryville.

6. Brains

Twenty-two brains were placed around Bloomington as part of a project spearheaded by Jill Bolte Taylor. It aimed to educate people about issues relating to brain injury and neurological disorders.

7. IU Basketball Ranked No. 1

Indiana University’s men’s basketball team was ranked No. 1 at the start of this year’s season. The Hoosiers started off strong, beating the University of North Carolina, but IU lost to Butler University this month, dropping the Hoosiers in the polls.

8. Elinor and Vincent Ostrom Pass Away

Indiana University lost two scholars this year with the passing of Elinor and Vincent Ostrom. The couple co-founded IU’s Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis. Elinor Ostrom was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics.

9. Hostess Declares Bankruptcy

The world-famous maker of Twinkies declared bankruptcy in November after employees at its factories around the U.S. refused to quit striking. Hostess Brands employed more than 850 people in Indiana.

10. I-69 Opens

Just before Thanksgiving the first three sections of I-69 opened ahead of schedule. Gov. Mitch Daniels led a parade from Evansville to Crane along with many long-time road supporters.  The next section from Crane to Bloomington is expected to open in 2014.

What did you think was the biggest story of 2012? Tell us by commenting below.

Gretchen Frazee

Gretchen Frazee is a reporter/producer for WFIU and WTIU news. Prior to her current role, Frazee worked as the associate online content coordinator for WFIU/WTIU. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studied multimedia journalism and anthropology. You can follow her on Twitter @gretchenfrazee.

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