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Mantracker, Russell Wilson, and unique local people of 2012

Some of the interesting, local people I featured in 2012 included King County Sheriff's Deputy Troy Chaffee, who is a certified mantracker and World War II veteran Joe Moser. (Linda Thomas photo collage)

If I add the words “bikini barista” to any headline, people can’t resist clicking.

That’s one trend that becomes obvious when I look back on the most popular stories from this blog – The News Chick – in 2012.

Maybe I should include “bikini” in the headlines of education or environmental stories that are more important, but don’t get read.

I also notice that some of my favorite people of 2012 were featured in the top trending stories of the year. They were all people who consider themselves to be “ordinary” even though they do things that have an impact in an extraordinary way.

Here are my top stories of 2012:

1. Exclusive: The mantracker who found a murder suspect’s bunker

You might remember the story of a man in the North Bend area named Peter Keller who killed his wife and daughter, set his house on fire, and then hid in a bunker in the wilderness.

How do you find someone who’s had eight years to prepare a hidden fort somewhere in potentially thousands of acres of wilderness?

King County used a certified “mantracker” to locate Keller. I talked with King County Deputy Troy Chaffee hours after they found Keller.

2. Weak gun laws blamed for Seattle violence

“The gun violence problem is in Seattle. The solution is in Olympia,” declares Ralph Fascitelli, president of Washington Ceasefire. “We have a lot of angry people who can easily get guns.”

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn says current laws make it “too easy” for people to acquire guns.

The city started with a gun control debate after nearly two dozen homicides in the first half of this year. It’s now a national issue for 2013 after the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

3. New Miss Seattle was ‘annoyed’ with us

I was as surprised as anyone that an observation I made about a local beauty/scholarship contest winner’s Twitter feed turned into an international story.

Jean-Sun Hannah Ahn has since devoted time to teaching middle and high school students about social media.

4. Seattle’s bikini baristas vs bikini barbers

There ya go.

5. Police sketcher turns witnesses’ memories into evidence

We often hear about what’s wrong with police officers in our area, and I will be writing more stories in a few weeks about some issues with the Bellevue Police Department. But also within the department, a unique officer I met this year – Greg Bean.

He’s a Bellevue Police detective who could barely draw more than stick figures most of his life. Now Bean is one of a few dozen forensic artists in the country, and an accomplished oil painter. There’s a lesson in his career for all of us.

Although I’m not a sporty girl, two top stories involved sports:

6. The faith and football of Russell Wilson

Who knew the Seahawk’s rookie quarterback would turn out to be such a solid superstar? I did; I’ve been a fan from the beginning. Seahawks in the Super Bowl, not this season, but they’ll be there in 2014. You heard it here first.

7. ‘Husky football almost killed me’

Who knew it would still be so painful to fall short of a football dream 40 years later? I’m grateful to Kevin James Richardson for sharing his story with me. Early in the New Year, I’ll have an update on what he’s doing now.

8. Making Joseph Kony a household name

A journalist for 25 years, and the story that affected me the most this year began on the morning of March 7th. I woke up to note written on our family message board in bold, black letters.

“Mom you NEED to talk about Kony 2012 on the radio.”

This was the first time my daughter, Maddie, told me to talk about anything on the radio.

The Kony 2012 video played on our emotions as Jason Russell, with the charity Invisible Children, described why the world needed to go after Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony.

My daughter organized a meeting with her peers in school to get involved with the Kony 2012 campaign.

Almost immediately after this Kony video broke, another video came out. This was a camera phone video of Russell running naked through traffic in broad daylight, screaming obscenities and making sexual gestures.

Maddie set up another meeting to figure out what to do in light of the new information.

No one showed up.

Kony 2012 struck me, not for the campaign’s effort and demise, but because I saw my daughter take the initiative to do something about a problem outside of her world. She continues to be a leader in her high school.

9. A JBLM wife’s struggle to help her husband

We often think of military men as being machines. Despite their training and equipment, inside they’re like the rest of us. Do we ask too much of those who are sent into combat?

Joint Base Lewis-McChord wife Sarah Jenkins helped us see her husband, and soldiers returning from war, in a different way.

10. World War II fighter pilot’s heart-racing story of survival

The most remarkable person I met in 2012 – Joe Moser. He is rare among veterans.

As I look forward to hundreds of original stories in 2013, I thank you for reading and commenting on my blog this year.

I appreciate you.


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