TANKS, RIVER KINGS AND EXPLOSIONS: 2013 was a wild ride for city, region

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CORNWALL, Ontario - Time flies when you're having fun.

And sometimes it flies when you're not having such a good time. 2013 has been a year of ups and down for plenty of Cornwall and area residents.

With all of us set to ring in 2014 we thought it would be a good idea to look back at the year that was, and take stock of some of the news stories that made us think, and gave us a chance to take stock of our own lives.

So here is our unofficial list of the top stories of 2013. If there's a story that touched you in particular, that is not on this list, please let us know.


We think it's the biggest story of the year. A pair of calcium chloride tanks are under construction on Cornwall's waterfront. There's still been plenty of fingerpointing about just who (the city, federal government) knew what, and when. The tank issue won't be going away, so expect more news on this subject in 2014.


This little girl should serve as the inspirational story of the year. A year ago the community was rallying around the Primeau family, holding fundraisers and sending prayers of support, because the future was anything but a guarantee for the young brain cancer victim. But today Madison is in remission, bopping around her Poirier Avenue home, playing with her dog Gilmour, had a ball at Christmas and has become every bit the daughter Denis and Shelley could have hoped for.


Speaking of inspirational stories, how about that of the former Cornwall man who woke up to a nightmare this summer when doctors were forced to tell him that both of his legs had to be amputated below the knee, he had lost all the fingers, including the thumb, on his left hand and he had been blinded in one eye. Dean got sick during a fishing trip and his body suffered a septic infection. He has toughed it out, with a positive attitude that, quite frankly, we should all strive for.


Of course it wasn't all inspiration in 2013. St. Albert was devastated back in February when a fire destroyed the popular cheese factory in that small Ontario village. The news reverberated throughout eastern Ontario and west Quebec. The good news is the plant will be rebuilt, and poutine lovers are forever grateful.


There was also a massive fire at a fireworks factory east of Cornwall in Cotuea du Lac, Que. back in June. A video from the fire quickly went viral on our Facebook page, pulling in more than 100,000 "views." The fire was a tragedy though, as two people were killed in the blaze.


The tragedy of the year reached new depths as a result of the Boston Marathon bombings. There were plenty of Cornwall connections to the attack. Three Cornwall and area runners took part in the marathon, and spouses also made the trip with them. All were safe, though incredibly shaken by the attack. Patrick Bazinet, a former city man who now makes his home in Boston, said the April attacks left him feeling like he was in a movie.


A Cornwall family was left reeling in November after a plane crash in Red Lake claimed the life of a former city resident who brought joy to everyone she met. Sharron Taylor, 64, a former Cornwallite with an infectious personality was killed in the Northern Ontario tragedy that also took the lives of four other people. The condolences continue to pour in.


Williamsburg resident Arnold Carl Vanallen is living his lottery dream after winning the Guaranteed $1 Million Prize from Lotto 6/49 draw in October. Vanallen, a 62-year-old production supervisor, found out he won while checking his tickets at the store.  “I was shocked. I went home but I didn’t tell my wife right away – I wanted to have a little fun first!...Later, when my wife won $12 on another ticket, she said, ‘Well it’s not $2,000 a week for life but it’s something.’ That’s when I said ‘Well how about a million dollars?’"


First up is the good news. The charity of charities achieved its $700,001 goal. It took an extra week, but who cares as long as the money is there. The bad news is the United Way has to invest some time in shining up its image locally. During the 2013 fundraising campaign the agency lost both its newly-minted executive director and the chair of its board. Both positions have since been filled, and Nolan Quinn has added a good deal of stability.


Oh, our beloved Cornwall River Kings. The ownership saga of the semi-pro team dominated the late summer in the Seaway City. Were they folding? Was the team sold? Would Bernie Villeneuve really camp out in front of city hall? The answers, for the record, were: No, yes, and no. After some back-and-forth between former owner Villeneuve, a new ownership group and the league, the team was eventually sold. They're playing out of the Cornwall Civic Complex, but not as well as fans would like.


What would a year-in-review be without some focus on city hall, so where to start? Whistleblower Rob Hickley retired from the fire department and his court case against Mayor Bob Kilger has fallen apart. The city fired five employees in the municipal works department this summer for a variety of infractions, only to bring two back while the balance retired. Taxes went up again, and there's was even mention of gassing Cornwall pigeons. And those were just the things we could think of off the top of our head.

Geographic location: Ontario

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