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A look back at the top local stories of 2019

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2019 was a year filled with milestones, crime, scandals, death and celebrations around the country and right here in the Two Virginias.

The year has now come to a close, but here's a look back at the biggest stories of the past 365 days in our area. January started with strong debate over West Virginia's education reform. Senate Education Bill 451 was criticized by teachers and teaching unions. In February, West Virginia teachers went on strike for two days.

Then the omnibus education bill or Senate Bill 451 died in the House of Delegates. Smaller bills cropped up to cover some pieces of legislation from the bill. In late June, Governor Jim Justice signed the Omnibus Education Bill, which paved the way for the mountain state's first charter schools.

The next big story of 2019: in February, a Bluefield, Virginia police officer was shot after a traffic stop off Rte. 460 in Bluefield, Virginia. The manhunt for Donquale Gray, 25, continued for several weeks in several states. However, in March, the manhunt came to an end in Morgantown.

Police confirmed the identity of the suspect in a shooting as Gray, who was killed after he shot at U.S. Marshals.

The next big story of 2019 involved a milestone. West Virginia State Police celebrated its 100 year anniversary March 29 in Charleston.

"Today is the day that the folks with the west virginia state police have been talking about for some time, the 100th anniversary. one of the oldest agencies in the nation. it's a very colorful agency, we do everything," said Colonel Jan Cahill, Superintendent of WVSP.

The next headline of 2019: Silicon Valley based company Intuit announced that it would set up a prosperity hub in downtown Bluefield.
In June, the company partnered with Alorida, another California based company, to hire up to 500 customer service representatives,

Then, on July 4, the world learned that that West Virginia coal billionaire Chris Cline, along with his daughter and five others were killed in a helicopter crash off the coast of the Bahamas.

The National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) review says the July 4 crash happened one minute after takeoff. It could take up to two years to complete a final report.

The summer also brought tens of thousands of visitors from across the globe to the Summit Bechtel Reserve in Glen Jean for the 24th World Scout Jamboree. For 10 days, in July and August, scouts enjoyed adventures in the mountains of West Virginia, learned new skills and made friendships they'll never forget.

However, 2019 also brought scandals at two West Virginia VA facilities: suspicious deaths at a VA hospital in Clarksburg and a sexual assault investigation at the Beckley VA.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and VA Secretary Robert Wilkie called for an expedited investigation of up to 11 suspicious deaths at the Clarksburg facility. At least two were classified as homicides. Then, in October, the first woman came forward in the case against a Beckley VA physician accused of sexually assaulting dozens of veterans.

Then, in late fall, news shocked many baseball fans and local business owners. The MLB announced a proposal that threatens the future of 42 minor league teams across the country.

Finally, 2019 ended with Second Amendment Aanctuaries popping up all over Virginia. Tazewell county took theirs a step further, adopting two; a sanctuary resolution, and a 'militia' resolution -- which "promotes the order of militia within tazewell county, pursuant to the second amendment."

That wraps up our most memorable stories of 2019. We're looking forward to seeing what 2020 has in store.

Melinda Zosh

Evening Anchor

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