A look at the Top 10 news stories of 2012 in The Record area:
#1 – Vi Ripken Kidnapped
The July kidnapping of Aberdeen's most well-known resident, remains the most bizarre and perhaps most unsettling story of 2012.
Vi Ripken, mother of Major Leaguers Cal Ripken Jr. and Billy Ripken, as well as Elly and Fred Ripken, was taken from her Aberdeen home at gunpoint by a white man in his late 30s or early 40s early on the morning of July 24 and driven around central Maryland in her car. She was then left, with her hands bound, inside the car, which was found parked near her home early in the morning of July 25.
Vi Ripken was unhurt and has been seen in public on several occasions since; however, she and the other members of the Ripken family have increased their personal security, and Cal Ripken Jr. has said publicly that the family remains concerned for its collective safety.
Police agencies investigating the case, including the FBI, have yet to make an arrest.
Sketches of the kidnapper have been circulated and there are images of him from a surveillance video taken at a Walmart during the night he held Vi Ripken hostage.
But nearly five months later, there still has been no break in the case.
#2 – New Havre de Grace Hospital gains momentum
Someday, motorists who exit I-95 at Route 155 toward Havre de Grace are expected to be greeted by a sprawling office and retail complex on their immediate right, with a seven-story hospital as its centerpiece.
The proposal for a new Havre de Grace hospital, replacing the aging Harford Memorial complex downtown, took a major step forward in September when, after several months of review and public meetings, the city's planning commission approved the concept plan for a mixed-use development on 96 acres that Upper Chesapeake Health owns next to the I-95/155 interchange.
The plan, which is being refined and remains under review by city planners, calls for up to 20 buildings to be constructed between 2016 and 2025, starting with the 250,000 square foot hospital and followed by several professional office buildings, retail shops and, eventually, a 110-room hotel.
As the city's approval process moves forward, what will happen to the existing Harford Memorial property remains a matter of speculation. Upper Chesapeake officials must also obtain state regulatory approval for the new hospital, a process that could take years, if there is significant public opposition, something the company learned a painful lesson about when it considered closing Harford Memorial in the 1990s.
#3 – New Havre de Grace High plan backed
A proud 1967 graduate of Havre de Grace High School and a member of the first class inducted into the school's hall of fame, Harford County Executive David Craig pulled out all stops in 2012 to leave his alma mater a lasting gift – a new HHS building.
Craig first began talking seriously about replacing the existing two-building complex on Congress Avenue in 2011, but this past year he did more than talk.
Craig sent a budget to the Harford County Council in the spring calling for a new school to be built on the athletic fields between Juniata Street and the middle school. When the council balked, Craig replied that its members had better play ball or no projects, school or otherwise, would be built for the remainder of his term. The council blinked.
Next came the marshaling of residents and other public officials from the Havre Grace, who attended county council and school board meetings, wearing buttons and T-shirts proclaiming, "It's Our Turn." This fall, the school board advanced the HHS project to top priority in its capital program, in turn bumping down several other school replacement projects.
It remains to be seen how fast the new HHS project will move forward, as the school board says it won't even seek state funding for a new HHS until at least a year from now. Meanwhile, 23 months are left in Craig's tenure as county executive…and counting.
#4 – BRAC hype begins to cool