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Our favorite stories we reported on in 2021

favorite stories 2021
Clockwise from top left: Ronny Salerno; Ronny Salerno; Gene Kritsky; Tana Weingartner; Pixabay; Cory Sharber
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As the station's digital editor, one of my favorite tasks at the end of each year is took look at what stories resonated with our audience the most over the last 300-ish days. In 2021, that largely included our local voter guides in November and details on the pop-up mass vaccination site held at the Cintas Center in March. While it's lovely to see these stories provided value, they don't exactly make for the most interesting look-back, you know?

So we're trying something different this year, asking our news team to share their favorite stories they reported on in 2021. What they chose is a good reminder that amid all of our reporting on politics and the pandemic, we still managed to bring you some good news.

Here's what they selected:

Jolene Almendarez: Looking for joy? Newport's fairy doors will help you find it

fairy doors
Ronny Salerno
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WVXU
Alexis Scheper, 5, points out a hidden fairy door on March 20, 2021, in the Mansion Hill neighborhood of Newport, Ky.

Hidden among staircases and curbs in the Mansion Hill neighborhood of Newport, Ky., are a multitude of fairy doors, the size of your hand or smaller. In March, Almendarez followed a family as they scoured the neighborhood looking for these doors. While the photos by our own Ronny Salerno will bring a smile to your face, listening to the story to hear five-year-old Alexis and three-year-old Riley's squeals of delight are sure to spark a moment of joy.

Becca Costello: Carl Westmoreland on growing up in Lincoln Heights and how America's 'got ugly we can fix'

Carl Westmoreland.jpg
Michael E. Keating
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Carl Westmoreland grew up in Lincoln Heights. His father, Guy, was one of the community's founders.

As the Village of Lincoln Heights celebrated its diamond jubilee of 75 years since incorporation, Costello told stories from the community as part of our Round the Corner series. She sat down with renowned historian Carl Westmoreland to hear about his experiences growing up in Lincoln Heights in the 1940s and '50s and what he sees for the village's future.

"What living in Lincoln Heights was like was watching the men work for years to be able to get money enough to buy a used fire truck," he said. "...It was on life support from the very beginning. And it was on life support with dignity."

Bill Rinehart: Bethel, Ohio, had it's own witch trial, with a happy(ish) ending

Bethel.jpg
Bill Rinehart
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WVXU
Bethel was previously known as Plainfield and Denhamstown, according to the Clermont County Historical Society.

When you hear the phrase "witch trial" you might think about the hysteria that overtook 17th century Salem, Massachusetts. But not as widely known is a Southwest Ohio witch trial in the early 19th century, which ended very differently. Rinehart explored this piece of local lore, fittingly, in October.

Cory Sharber: From 'excited' to 'nerve-racking': How CPS students feel about returning to the classroom

cps protest
Cory Sharber
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WVXU
The weekend before Cincinnati Public Schools reopened for blended learning in February 2021, some students and parents drove in a caravan to protest outside of the CPS' Education Center opposing the district's return to school plan. A group of counter protesters also made their voices heard, demanding CPS hold classes in-person five days a week.

In February, students in the Cincinnati Public Schools district returned to the classroom for another round of blended learning. While some students were excited to return, others had concerns, and those differences showed up in protests outside the CPS' Education Center the weekend before students were set to return to the classroom.

Sharber talked to one student who was a mix of both sides. "I'm so excited to have that social aspect back and I'm so excited to be able to actually learn in school, but I'm not super excited for the fact that, 'Oh you still got to stay six feet away from people,' and, 'Oh, if you aren't wearing a mask you could kill someone,' " freshman Ginger Hickerson said.

Ann Thompson: Want to escape cicadas? Here's where to go in the Tri-State

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Courtesy of Gene Kritsky
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This summer, Brood X took over the Tri-State (and inspired a really good podcast). Unsurprisingly, not everyone is a fan of the little buggers, so Thompson set out to discover the areas around town that could offer respite from their near-constant squeals.

On the excursion, OSU Entomologist Joe Boggs asked her, "It may be 'Welcome to West Virginia.' When do you need to get back?"

Tana Weingartner: End in sight for some adults at high-risk of COVID-19

ladd vaccination
Tana Weingartner
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WVXU
Dena Lemon holds her mother's hand as a medical assistant administers the COVID-19 vaccine during a clinic at LADD, Inc on Jan. 23, 2021.

In January, Weingartner watched as one community particularly sheltered during the pandemic got vaccinated: those with developmental disabilities. Being at higher risk for the virus meant they hadn't been able to get out and do the things they're used to doing.

Anne Gerhardt said she'd been nervous, but the shot went well. "The process was really good and the vaccine was good," she said, offering some advice to others waiting to get the shot: "Just be yourself and take a deep breath and just be you."