From multi-million dollar investments in the energy and auto industry to multiple deaths and political visits, 2012 was nothing if not interesting. Below are the top 10 local stories of the year as chosen by the Tribune Chronicle newsroom:
1. BP buys mineral rights
The burgeoning local energy industry got a big shot in the arm in March when BP signed an agreement to lease about 84,000 acres in Trumbull County for future oil and gas production in the Utica / Point Pleasant shale formation. The mineral rights alone, inked with the Associated Landowners of the Ohio Valley, are estimated to be worth about $300 million - money that was to start rolling in by October.
Tribune Chronicle file photos
In March, firefighters pick through the debris of a Warren house fire that claimed the lives of four people, two of them children.
Depending on whether natural gas is found and extracted, the 1,954 landowners who signed leases can expect to be paid a 17.5 percent production royalty.
2. Deadly house fire
The second deadliest fire in Warren's history took place on March 3, 2012, resulting in the deaths of Edtawn Kimble, 32, his girlfriend, Yolanda D. Holmes, 38, and two of Holmes' children, Mari'Auna Holmes, 13, and Marniece Holmes, 9.
It is believed that unattended cooking equipment or an electrical short in the kitchen touched off the blaze at the family's 160 Austin Ave. N.W. home that was fueled by high winds. All four died of smoke inhalation.
The deadliest fire in Warren's history took place the previous year, killing six people at 911 Landsdowne Ave. N.W. on June 16, 2011.
In both cases, the homes had no working smoke detectors.
The Save A Life Smoke Alarm initiative was started in October by members of the Warren Fire Department and the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 204 along with more than a dozen local groups to put First Alert smoke alarms in the homes of those who need them.
3. Massage parlors
Eight massage parlors in Warren were closed in June after a citywide sweep May 30 by local police and agents with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.
The raids were a culmination of a yearlong joint investigation with the county prosecutor's office and city police that included BCI setting up remote-controlled cameras to conduct surveillance.
From that investigation, BCI collected evidence suggesting some of the women working in the spas were victims of sex trafficking. During one raid, agents encountered two naked men, who were escorted out of the building.
Former spa employees told BCI investigators that they knew people who brought women from New York City in order to provide a myriad of sex acts. An affidavit filed by BCI referred to Warren as "the Grove City of illegal, inimical prostitution business," referencing the nearby outlet mall.
The spas have had their licenses revoked for at least one year by the city health department.
4. End of RG Steel
The future of steel making in Warren was cast in doubt when RG Steel - formerly the nation's fourth-largest steelmaker - liquidated its assets, including its Warren plant on Pine Avenue, after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May.
After about two months, the mill - which opened in 1912 as Trumbull Steel Co. - was purchased by BDM Warren Steel Holdings LLC. The company, has said it is committed to reopening the idled plant, the closing of which resulted in more than 1,000 workers being laid off.
Existing pension plans were terminated Nov. 13, but the government-run Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. assumed responsibility for the more than 1,200 current and future retirees of RG Steel's former Warren plant.
5. Four slain in Falls
The Village of Newton Falls was rocked July 6 when four people - including a 15-year-old boy - died in a quadruple homicide / suicide.
The shooter, Rob Brazzon, 55, killed his live-in girlfriend, Tracey Engler, 38, with two gunshots to the head and face. Brazzon then went to his ex-brother-in-law's 72 Trumbull Ave. home one block away and shot Rikki Cogley Sr., his wife, Kathy Cogley, and her son, 15-year-old Everett Greathouse, multiple times.
Brazzon then drove to nearby Newton Township Cemetery on Ridge Road, where he fatally shot himself in the chest after a brief standoff with police.
About 13 years earlier, Newton Falls police and state agents had raided Brazzon's house, confiscating 47 guns, ammunition, homemade bombs, prescription drugs and cash. A 27-count indictment resulted in a five-year probation sentence, which was knocked down to two years. The majority of the guns and money were eventually returned to Brazzon and his family after the case.
6. CSB rape case
A husband and wife pleaded guilty to raping an infant relative at the Trumbull County Children Services Warren office during what was supposed to be a supervised visit in April 2011.
Felicia Banks Beemer, 22, of Warren, pleaded guilty to charges of rape and pandering obscenity of a minor and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison in October. Her husband, Cody Beemer, 23, was sentenced in June to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years after pleading guilty to similar charges.
The incident sparked investigations of CSB policies and practices in which the agency acknowledged it had relaxed the supervised visitation for the Beemers prior to the rape. At the time of the incident, caseworkers said they were checking in on the trio in timed intervals during the weekly two-hour visits.
A grand jury determined two CSB workers did not commit criminal violations, but executive director Nick Kerosky was given a buyout in February amid the controversy.
7. Lordstown investment
Auto production - a perennial Mahoning Valley economic engine - got a boost in late August when General Motors Co. announced it was making a $200 million investment to retool its Lordstown complex, including a redesigned new generation compact car to be produced there.
Most of the investment is aimed at body retooling in the Lordstown plant, but also includes $20 million for upgrades to the Parma stamping plant.
GM officials have said the investment should help retain 5,000 jobs in Northeast Ohio.
Two months later, the Lordstown-built Chevrolet Cruze posted a 27 percent increase over sales last November, helping GM to post its highest November U.S. sales since 2007.
8. Battleground: Valley
Ohio lived up to its reputation as a kingmaker as candidates and their surrogates flocked to the state to make their cases. The Mahoning Valley was no exception.
Among those who stumped for votes locally were Vice President Joe Biden, former President Bill Clinton, Speaker of the House John Boehner, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
It wasn't all podium speeches and balloons, though. A few hopefuls made quick detours to area hot spots. Biden sampled the goods at the Canfield Fair and the Mocha House in Warren; and Ryan stopped by Warren's landmark Hot Dog Shoppe and the St. Vincent DePaul soup kitchen in Youngstown, where his pot-scrubbing skills got some unwanted media attention.
President Barack Obama was scheduled to appear with Clinton at the Covelli Centre but was sidetracked by Hurricane Sandy.
9. SCOPE woes
SCOPE went through many changes in 2012, including the retirement of longtime director Janet Schweitzer in April.
Funding for the senior agency was uncertain after it came under fire with state allegations stating the agency failed to comply with several regulations which included background checks and employee credentials.
SCOPE's clients in the PASSPORT program - a Medicaid-funded program providing transportation, personal care, homemaker and adult day care services - were removed by the Area Agency on Aging 11 after the allegations.
Shortly thereafter, the agency decided to not renew SCOPE's Title III contract at the end of April, citing health and safety concerns, which cost the agency about $38,000 a month.
In September, SCOPE's certification as a long-term care provider was revoked by Ohio Department of Aging director Bonnie Kantor-Burman.
In October, SCOPE said it won't appeal the ruling, which means it can no longer provide services under the PASSPORT program.
10. Amish attacks
After a series of hair-cutting attacks in the fall of 2011, 16 members of a breakaway Amish group based in Bergholz were found guilty of federal hate crimes on Sept. 20.
In the attacks - one of which occurred in Trumbull County - the beards and hair were forcibly removed from other Amish practitioners with whom they had religious disputes. In one instance, a woman testified that she and her husband were attacked by six of their children and their spouses.
The Amish believe hair-cutting is an offensive act because the Bible instructs men to grow beards and stop shaving once they marry and for women to grow their hair long.
Attorneys for the defendants never denied that the hair cuttings took place and said members of the breakaway group took action out of compassion and concern that some Amish were straying from their beliefs.
Sentencing is set for Jan. 24.