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Blubaugh: It wasn’t all bad, was it? Looking back on 2019

Many news organization use time over the last few weeks of the year to take stock of all that happened. Not only do we find it a most fascinating exercise to do year-in-reviews, it’s also necessary to fill space — hey, a pretty high percentage of the people we interview most of the year take this time off.

Years ago, when I was in sports, this was a fun process. Certainly some of the stories we looked back on were negative or controversial or sad, but most were about the triumph of the team or individual, often peppered with the overcoming of adversity.

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News side, things are a bit different. Just taking a look at the Associated Press ranking of the Top 10 stories of 2019 had me searching for the anti-depressants. Not a lot of good news.

President Trump’s impeachment was, of course, ranked No. 1. While that may be considered positively wonderful news by some, it’s hard to see how a president being impeached could be good for the country. Trump also factored into Nos. 2 and 3, immigration and the Russia probe. Mass shootings, notably the back-to-back August tragedies in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio that claimed 32 lives between them, came in fourth. Opioids, the ongoing epidemic as well as the lawsuits against Big Pharma, finished fifth. Climate change, Brexit, the U.S.-China Trade War, Boeing jets grounded after a pair of Air Max crashes killed 346, and Hong Kong protests rounded out the list.

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The selections were made by a panel of editors and managers from newspapers, TV stations and AP newsrooms around the globe. What, they didn’t watch Tiger Woods win the Masters? Or notice the launch of Disney’s streaming service? Or listen to “Old Town Road”?

I can’t be too critical. Looking back on the biggest stories in Carroll County from 2019 isn’t a barrel of laughs either.

We’re in the midst of doing a year in review for the biggest local stories in business, education, government and breaking news, but we didn’t rank them. If we had, the contenders for No. 1 wouldn’t have made anyone feel particularly good about the year.

From the man shot and killed in Westminster after stabbing a Maryland State Police trooper, to the tragic fire at a historic house in Sykesville that left two dead, to the ex-Taneytown police chief being convicted of possessing and transferring a machine gun, to the ex-principal and Teacher of the Year sentenced to 22 years in federal prison for producing child pornography, to the Mount Airy man killed at the Great Frederick Fair, to the story that probably will go down as most notorious of all, the two Hampstead residents who ultimately pleaded guilty to 11 counts each of aggravated animal cruelty in the so-called Black Rock Dogs case, where 27 dogs were found dead and 27 others were found in deplorable conditions; let’s just say 2019 won’t be remembered for the triumph of the team or individual or overcoming of adversity.

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But I refuse to let 2019 be wholly defined by the above.

So I’ll also choose to remember the off-duty firefighter who saved a Manchester teen’s life after a crash, and the retired firefighter who stormed a burning house trying to save a trapped dog, the Westminster woman who made a run at Miss America, the Eldersburg teen who competed against about 800 Rubik’s Cube competitors and became the fastest solver in North America in one of the events, the Westminster woman who won the regional cosplay championship at New York Comic Con, and some of the cool new businesses that opened in Carroll. Among many, many other stories.

As for my personal Newsmaker of the Year in Carroll, it certainly won’t be a dog killer or anyone who was charged, convicted or sentenced in 2019. But he is creepy.

Hampstead tattoo artist Jason Lynn, aka Creepy Jason, gained a large local following and some measure of national fame from being one of 24 contestants on Paramount Network’s “Ink Master.” He made it all the way to the finale, standing out thanks to his considerable skills as well as his signature look of a tie, suspenders and a bowler hat. “The support just grew exponentially,” Lynn told us. “And it’s just been nothing but a positive experience the whole damn time and it’s made me very very grateful.”

Lynn wound up finishing third in the competition, but I’d say he triumphed and probably overcame at least a bit of adversity to do so. Good enough for me. And better than good enough for 2019.

Bob Blubaugh is the editor of the Carroll County Times. His column appears Sundays. Email him at bob.blubaugh@carrollcountytimes.com.

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