The new Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium that was constructed just north of the Chillicothe High School was ranked first on the list of Top 10 News Stories of Chillicothe for 2012. Coming in at a close second was demotion of the long-time Leeper hotel building, which caught fire in June. In third place were Operation Help and Food for the Needy's most recent record-setting food and money collection drives over the past month. Last year's top story was the record snow storm that hit the city in the early months of the year. In 2010, the top story was the failed hospital election.
1. New CHS stadium
Construction began in late 2011, but continued well through the spring and summer months of 2012 on the new $4 million Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium, north of the Chillicothe High School. The stadium — which includes a turf field and video scoreboard feature — was purchased using donations collected through the Chillicothe Education Foundation, and was completed just in time for the football Hornets' first home game on Aug. 24, versus the Marshall Owls. During the stadium dedication ceremony held prior to said first game, the field was dubbed the "Bob Fairchild Field" after the longtime CHS football coach. It was decided during the Nov. 21, 2012 Chillicothe R-2 board of education meeting that the old Jerry Litton Stadium would be retained for CMS use, and that the old grandstand bleachers would be donated to the GRTS.
2. Leeper demolished, burns
The long-debated demolition of the Leeper Hotel building began in May of this year, with Hamilton's Red Rock Construction at the helm. On June 2, a large fire engulfed the Leeper rubble, sending smoke throughout the entirety of downtown Chillicothe, and high above the city skyline. The fire was deemed accidental in nature, and demolition of the structure continued until completion in mid-July. The area has since been sodded, and no further plans have been made for its future use.
3. Operation Help/Salvation Army receive big boosts
Record amounts were raised through Operation Help greeting card and the Salvation Army's Food for the Needy campaign this Christmas. The giant greeting card, published through the C-T, raised more than $16,100 for Operation Help, an organization that runs entirely through private donations and helps fill financial gaps for individuals and families within the Livingston County community. The Food for the Needy share drive, coordinated through Hy-Vee, the C-T and Piggly-Wiggly, raised $17,786 in cash and food items for the Salvation Army. Money and donations for the Salvation Army were powered by community efforts at the 11th hour.
4. Livingston County Jail closes
It was announced on Dec. 18, 2012, during a press conference held at the Livingston County Courthouse, that the Livingston County Jail would be closing its doors indefinitely, effective immediately. The reasons cited were costly critical repair needs and staffing issues at the jail. The 25 inmates housed at the jail were transported to the Daviess Dekalb Regional Jail in Pattonsburg, Mo., where Livingston County detainees will continue to be housed in the future. The closure cost five persons their full-time detention officer jobs.
5. Hottest summer on record, drought worsens
On July 7, temperatures reached 110 degrees Fahrenheit in Chillicothe — the hottest it had been in the city since 1936, during the Dust Bowl years. At the time, Chillicothe was in the midst of an 11-day streak at over 100 degrees (June 27 to July 7). In all, Chillicothe was at or above 100 degrees for almost an entire month (27 days between June and August) this year. Lacking rainfall (1.37 inches in June, 0.61 inches in July, and 0.82 inches up until the last day of August, when a downpour brought four inches of rain down on the area) on top of the excessive heat made farming and gardening difficult for many localites, as it did for multitudes across the Midwest. This year, Chillicothe received just 25.17 inches of precipitation — over 10 inches below average (37.81).
6. Construction makes way for new water park
The city of Chillicothe formally entered into a lease purchase transaction to finance the development of Chilli Bay Water Park in December. The project involves expanding and transforming the existing municipal aquatic center into a water park. The over $4 million project began once the pool was closed for the season and is expected to be open by Memorial Day 2013.
7. New hospital breaks ground
The official groundbreaking for the new Hedrick Medical Center — a $41 million project, being built tax-free to the citizens of Chillicothe — was held on Aug. 1, with a large crowd in attendance from across the state. The hospital will be located at the intersection of Mohawk Drive and Washington Street (Hwy. 65) in Chillicothe, immediately west of the Green Hills Golf Course. JE Dunn Construction is contracted to build the structure, which is designated for completion by early 2014.
8. ONE Project helps Dewey
The ONE Project, a collaboration of several area churches that join together for one main goal — the improvement of an existing structure within the Chillicothe R-2 School District — in its third year chose Dewey School as its 2012 target, back in early July. Approximately $5,000 in goods were donated towards the improvement efforts, officials stated. Over 80 volunteers participated in the efforts.
9. Sonoco expands
In March, it was announced that Sonoco Plastics would expand their business within the Chillicothe Industrial Park by 75,000 square feet to the west. The expansion was said to add an additional 13 or 14 positions in the operations sector, and 25 positions at the Chillicothe facility by its completion. The expansion cost was estimated at $5.8 million.
10. City gets eight new storm sirens
The City of Chillicothe, in late February, replaced eight of their 11 citywide storm sirens, repaired the final three, and updated their siren control panels at a cost of $157,000. Blue Valley Public Safety, Inc. provided the final bid for the project. Problems with siren consistency in the apparatus from the 50s and 60s led to the initial siren purchase in Oct. 2011. After initial testing, the sirens were synced up properly in the spring of 2012.