Get ready for unpredictable 2017

By most measures, the 2016 news year has been extraordinary. Now I can say that as I look back at the big local stories that we’ve been revisiting for the last nine days — not to mention coverage of thousands of other stories we’ve shared over the last 365 days.

We’ve taken the time in the last week and a half to begin counting down what we, at the Tribune Chronicle, deem to be the biggest news stories of 2016, updating them with new developments. We wrap up today with what we believe is the biggest local news event of the year. Also in today’s newspaper, you’ll find what we’ve deemed as the biggest 10 local sports stories and the biggest 10 business stories of the year. We’re also reprinting today what we saw as the most remarkable local photos published during 2016 in the Tribune Chronicle.

Today we will recount stories including the more than 50 felony and corruption charges filed against longtime former Niles Mayor Ralph Infante; the state championship of Warren’s John F. Kennedy varsity football team; the eventful 50th anniversary year at General Motors Lordstown complex that started with launch of the next-generation Chevy Cruze and ended with the layoff of more than 1,200 workers and the elimination of the plant’s third shift.

In past days, we’ve recounted the surprising role Trumbull County played in the unexpected election of Republican Donald Trump as president; the guilty plea and sentencing of newly elected Warren city Auditor Anthony Natale; and the challenge by Howland Congressman Timothy J. Ryan for minority leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives. We’ve explored Warren’s financial struggles and its successful push for a 0.5 percent income tax increase. That might be rivaled only by the ongoing financial problems in neighboring Niles. We’ve also outlined the growing heroin epidemic and the horrific effects it has had on the Mahoning Valley; we’ve revisited the end to a consent decree Trumbull County had with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency spelling out septic system rules that, for 10 years, had far outreached state regulations in other counties.

Other big stories that didn’t even make our “top 10” included the Queen of Hearts game phenomena that has touched area bars not once but twice. There’s the ongoing fight to return murder suspect Claudia Hoerig from Brazil, where she has lived since her husband was found shot to death in their Newton Falls home. After years of struggles, the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport this year finally landed a daily commercial flight to Chicago — only to see the plug pulled just weeks later. Stay tuned for expected legal battles over that failure.

And the list goes on and on.

We in the news business tend to get consumed with each story as it unfolds, making it our clear focus for a time. No matter how long it takes, good journalists typically live in the vacuum of that story. That’s why it’s often difficult to step back and judge the enormity of the year’s news events. But now as I look back, I realize that 2016 has, indeed, been a significant news year.

But like every day in this business, there is little time to dwell. We are moving quickly into 2017. Soon we will examine the Infante case as it unfolds; the status of spending debates in Trumbull County, Warren and, of course, Niles; and much more that we can’t begin to predict. In seven days a member of our Tribune Chronicle sports staff will be in Texas for firsthand coverage of Youngstown State University’s attempt at the FCS Division I National Football Championship.

And that’s just the beginning.

Thanks for reading in 2016. We hope you are looking forward as much as we are to an unpredictable 2017. Happy New Year!