We're only days away from ringing in a new year.
And for Jim Olson, that always means it's time to look back at what we were talking about in the year now-ending.
Jim begins his Year in Review stories with a look at what was making headlines in January and February of 2012.
Early January's news was dominated by the disappearance of a woman from Sidney, Montana. 43-year-old teacher Sherry Arnold had been out for a run early one morning and didn't return. Searchers combed the Sidney area for days. And then, on January 14th came the ominous news that two men were in custody in connection with her disappearance. Before long, we learned the men had told officials they had abducted Arnold and by spring, her body was discovered in western North Dakota. Prosecutors say they will seek the death sentence if the two Colorado men are convicted in Arnold's death.
On January 12th, a district judge sentenced Cassondra Ayala and Anthony Robinson to prison for their roles in the death of 19-month-old Conrad Ayala in 2011. Cassondra Ayala, the child's mother, was sentenced to 22 years in prison, while Robinson's sentence was 27 years.
The first two months of the year were dominated by news of flood recovery in the Mouse River valley.
Officials at Minot Public Schools were in a very expensive tug of war with FEMA early in the year. FEMA officials were refusing to pay for relocating Ramstad Middle School - a school destroyed by the 2011 flood. FEMA said no on January 13th.
But Superintendent Mark Vollmer and others kept up the pressure - and the school board OK'd a plan to buy land on north hill for a new Ramstad even as FEMA officials stonewalled. It would be months before school district officials got final word that FEMA had finally agreed it made sense to rebuild Ramstad out of the flood plain.
Minot's park district also battled FEMA for rebuilding funds. In January, park district officials said there was a three million dollar shortfall between the amount needed to rebuild and the amount FEMA was agreeing to provide.
Meanwhile, Ward County and the City of Minot were approving plans to buyout a couple hundred homes that were in the flood plain and demolition on some of the first bought-out houses began in late January. The State Water Commission approved 30 million dollars in funding for acquisitions and a map listing properties proposed for buyouts was released in early February.
On January 19th, the city and county received word they had qualified for nearly 70 million dollars in Community Development Block Grant funds from the federal government. Officials quickly began developing a plan for how the money would be used.
On January 27th, Governor Jack Dalrymple announced plans for a study of Lake Darling that would look into the possibility of raising the dam to increase storage behind the dam, improving flood protection for the valley. The following week, he and Senator John Hoeven were in Regina, meeting with the Saskatchewan premier and the minister in charge of flood protection. The four talked about cooperation in developing new ways to manage the river that caused so much damage in both Canada and the US in 2011. Meanwhile in mid-February, the international group that manages the river - the International Souris River Board - met in Bismarck and took initial steps to look into what changes might be made in the agreement governing river management.
February brought construction on Hope Village - the makeshift collection of church agencies that had been providing volunteer help to flood victims since the water receded. The plan for Hope Village called for housing and food services to be provided so that thousands of volunteers from across the country could begin streaming into the area when the weather warmed.
Speaking of weather, the region was enjoying a very mild winter - so mild that this storm in late February was the biggest of the winter season with about 8-10 inches of snow.
Meanwhile, the focus of flood protection was on engineering for what is called the Mouse River Enhanced Flood Protection Project. All through January and February, engineers were developing and tweaking the plan - deciding on paths and diversions for the river and figuring costs. On the last day of February - the 29th - the engineering firms delivered their report carrying an estimated price tag of 820 million dollars. The month ended with city council members poring over the report, planning to take action on the recommendations in March. We'll cover that in our next report. Jim Olson, KX News.
Jim will continue his Year in Review series tomorrow, looking at the major stories of March and April.