In case you missed it, the Herald published its top 10 news stories of the year Jan. 1, and the top business stories of the year Dec. 31.
East Manatee was well represented on both lists.
Let's take a look at the top news stories, and where East Manatee figured into the equation.
The No. 3 news story, the general election, included a seismic shift with East Manatee resident Betsy Benac beating Bradenton resident and long-serving at-large Commissioner Joe McClash.
The election also saw the first Lakewood Ranch resident, Vanessa Baugh, elected to the District 5 seat, replacing River Landings resident Donna Hayes.
The No. 5 story, the resignation of State College of Florida president Lars Hafner, also had a Lakewood Ranch component.
It was at an August meeting at the Lakewood Ranch campus of SCF that Trustee Dr. Craig Trigueiro made a motion for a no-confidence vote, citing what he called a pattern of bad judgment and cost overruns by Hafner.
Though the trustees deadlocked 4-4 that day, it seemed obvious that Hafner's days were numbered.
The No. 9 story, the "trouble at Willowbrook," written by Nick Williams, described the nightmare going back several years of residents in a KB Home community. As Nick got deeper into the story, a pattern of structural defects at KB Homes in several other communities across the nation became apparent.
The story continues to unfold with residents who bought their homes living in conditions that most of us would find intolerable.
Finally, the No. 10 story, the boom in tourism, gave a nod to the growing role of rowing competition at Nathan Benderson Park, and Premier Sports Campus at Lakewood Ranch. These two recent additions have brought millions of dollars of new money into the economy of Manatee-Sarasota.
Not making the top 10 were any number of other stories that were important.
Among them, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine opened a new $52 million dental school in Lakewood Ranch, and Lakewood Ranch Medical Center opened an orthopedic spine and joint center, and announced plans for a pediatric unit. A story attracting a lot of attention was TreeUmph!, a 14-acre treetop adventure park being built in East Manatee.
It was just about one year ago, Jan. 9, that Lakewood Ranch suffered its first murder.
Ina Gross was found dead in her home Jan. 9. The case remains unsolved. For more, see
Elizabeth Johnson's story in today's edition.
Another huge story this year, and it actually led our list of business stories, was the groundbreaking for the University Town Center mall on the Manatee-Sarasota county line, just off Interstate 75.
This $315 millionconstruction projectwill produce an880,000-square-footmall housing 115 stories and six sit-down restaurants.
Schroeder-Manatee Ranch CEO Rex Jensen has said that while this is not an SMR project -- it's a Benderson-Taubman effort -- the mall will be an asset to Ranch residents.
There will be huge ramifications for the area between Tampaand Fort Myers whenthe new mall opens in 2014.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7021 or tweet @jajones1.