Say what you will about 2011 in Frankfort; it wasn't boring.
This was the first full year Frankfort Patch covered the community, and while the village wasn't subjected to earthquakes, plague outbreaks or alien invasions, there was certainly enough going on to keep me busy.
I went back through the archives (at my age, I don't trust my memory) and chose the 10 headlines, events and ongoing stories that provided the most impact--and in some cases, drama--in Frankfort.
This school district could fill up the top five spots on its own, given everything that went on this year. Wire to wire, D161 had more unexpected twists and turns than the Viper at Great America, and it's not over yet. Let's run down what's happened so far:
- radically changing the complexion of the board.
- In a controversial final act by the "old board," .
- Pain abruptly retires in May, and human resources and .
- At a finance committee meeting, --either or --in order to make up for a shortfall of approximately $2 million in the 2012-13 budget.
- from the board after she's appointed to the.
- without doing a candidate search or conducting interviews, an action that upsets some board and community members.
It doesn't look like things will be slowing down in 2012. and making budget decisions that could close a school and restructure the district in February.
The decay of the financial empire of William McEnery, owner of Gas City, began at the end of 2010 when . The courts decided the Frankfort-based company needed in order to pay off its debts. That sale--which netted about $135 million--happened in May, with the Frankfort stations being purchased by Speedway. In that same month, , with the highest bidder being McEnery's son, William "Billy" McEnery, the vice president of the ice cream chain.
This has been Frankfort Patch's most viewed story since coming online in November of last year. The article was the perfect encapsulation of two larger stories: 1) the February blizzard that swept through the Chicagoland area and the Midwest, and 2) the continued financial struggles of William McEnery, who owned Green Garden. Late last year, , and against the club.
The indoor golf range, complete with a new dome, .
4. An Influx of New Businesses in Frankfort
The year started out on a less-than-auspicious note with a cluster of businesses closing their doors. But by late spring, the reverse was happening in Frankfort: New shops and restaurants were popping up around the village, including , , , , , , and . And even when one business closed, another was quick to fill the spot, as was the case with for GC Boutique and for Jenny's Steak House.
This tragedy topped , and it's worth noting here as well. Patrick Mizwicki's death showed how much this young man meant to the lives of so many people in the Lincoln-Way area.
Here's an example where the community's response to an event was more significant than the event itself. The in-progress burglary that put two schools and a neighborhood in lockdown was resolved fairly quickly with no one hurt. But what was striking was how neighbors and residents used social media (like the Frankfort Patch Facebook page) and the old-fashioned telephone to alert one another of what was going on.
Although Steve Nedzel spent much of his time with the New Lenox-based Lincoln-Way high schools, his death from brain injuries caused by a falling accident was all across the district.
Another tragic accident, made even more so by the details surrounding it, caused the death of just a week after she graduated from Lincoln-Way North High School. The Jeep Cherokee she was riding in was struck by another car going well over the speed limit. the day before what would've been her 18th birthday.
Torrential rain cut a day of the Frankfort Fall Festival short, but that didn't keep people from attending when the sun was out. The village's premiere event broke a single-day attendance record with an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 people showing up in downtown Frankfort on the Sunday of the festival. , but festival officials and vendors were certainly happy with the turnout.
10. and Redistricting
Both these stories have "to be continued" attached to them, as it will be interesting to see how these changes--if they go through, in the case of Frankfort moving into the 1st congressional district--will affect the political landscape.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE LIST? Did we miss an important story? Agree or disagree, tell us in the comments.