Top stories of 2009

By Web Staff – email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) –  It's been a busy year here at As we head into 2010, we look back at the past 12 months.

Our newsroom compiled a list of the biggest local stories in 2009.

Registe Back in Columbus
Our top local story of 2009 is Michael Registe's extradition to Columbus on July 23rd.  He was one of the FBI's most wanted and was on the run in St. Maarten --  accused of shooting and killing Randy Newton jr. And Bryan Kilgore. "It's been a long ordeal for all the families involved - part 2 of the nightmare, " said Bryan Kilgore's mother, Janice Taylor.

Carlton Gary Not Executed
More recently, Carlton Gary, the man known as the Stocking Strangler and convicted of killing at least 3 Columbus women in the 1970s, was four hours away from execution, when it was delayed.

Wicked Weather
Let's not forget the wicked weather.  A Tornado tore through Salem, AL and Wacoochee Junior high school on February 28th.  Just a day later, nearly 7 inches of Snow, yes Snow covered parts of Muscogee County. 

Then, another Tornado hit Midtown Columbus April 19th – posing a danger for WTVM employees. The strong storm destroyed the Valley Lanes off 280 in Phenix City.

Good and bad economic news
Georgia and Alabama had their share of economic news.

We had news of state furloughs then the announcement of NCR opening a production facility in Columbus -- bringing dozens of jobs.   A day later, more than a thousand people out of work in Opelika, AL with the BF Goodrich tire plant closing its doors.

On the flip side, The KIA plant in West Point, GA opened, bringing 12-hundred jobs.

Bush Ax murder arrest
5th on our list of 2009's top local stories is an arrest in the shocking 23-year-old cold case of Columbus pregnant woman Erica Curry and her two children. Authorities say they were  killed with a bush ax and linked Michael Curry to the crime. He went behind bars on May 20th, but currently his lawyers are seeking a change of venue.

National Infantry Museum grand opening
The National Infantry Museum opened its doors in June -- just off Fort Benning property.

That day, thousands came, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell, "With a place like this, you are seeing history, living itself out, history in action," said Powell.

Lee County deputy killed
Then, there was tragedy in East Alabama. A Lee County deputy was killed in the line of the duty for the first time in decades. Gregory Henderson was indicted for capital murder and accused of running over Deputy James Anderson with his car during a traffic stop in September.

Teak Drive flooding
 April 1st was rough in Columbus. Flooding caused a mess on Teak Drive, which backs up to a crucial drain for the city.

 "Look at what's happened, the devastation, everybody in this cul-de-sac in ruins," Lisa Kuntz, Teak Drive Flood Victim, said. Following the flooding, Teak Drive residents filed a lawsuit, and the city of Columbus offered to pay for some flood damage.

Muscogee County SPLOST passes
Ninth biggest local story of the year – Muscogee County's Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST passed with 57% of voters saying yes in September. Ultimately bringing in $200 million to Muscogee County schools, for projects like a new Carver High.

"It's great.  We've created a vision for the people, they've bought into the vision.  It's our obligation to move forward with that, " Dr. Susan Andrews, Muscogee County Superintendent, said.

Mark Shelnutt not guilty verdict
Our list starts with a verdict of not guilty on all 36 counts. Attorney Mark Shelnutt  was acquitted in his money laundering trial just before Thanksgiving.

 "I'm just of course overwhelmed...happy of course. We said from the start we were going to try our case in the courtroom," said a relieved Shelnutt.

If you have any thoughts on your favorite stories of 2009, post your comments in the section below.

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