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Top five stories of 2012 in Kent

By Andy Harris
Ohio.com correspondent

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Kent State University defensive end Zach Hitchens (center) runs in a fumble for a fourth quarter touchdown in the Mid American Conference Championship Game at Ford Field on Friday in Detroit, Michigan. The Flashes lost the game 44-37 in double overtime.(Phil Masturzo/Akron Beacon Journal)
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Here are the top five stories of 2012 in Kent as selected by Ohio.com correspondents:

Tax levy fails in November

In addition to casting their votes to select the next president of the United States, Kent voters also weighed in on a 0.25 percent increase on the existing 2 percent income tax rate that would have provided funds to build a new police facility.

By a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent, Kent voters rejected the measure, leaving its supporters to revise their plan to replace a structure that is widely recognized as being in need of either a significant renovation or replacement.

The city spent $100,000 to temporarily repair the building's roof this year, but with little familiarity of community members with the plans for a new building and no sunset provision to provide a firm end date for the new tax, the measure lost by a double-digit margin.

Kent State athletics success

For a school that helped pave the way for mid-major programs in the NCAA men's basketball tournament with its Elite Eight run in 2002, 2012 was arguably the best all-around year for Kent State athletics in decades.

The baseball team reached the College World Series for the first time in program history, defeating No. 1-seeded Florida in Omaha and going 1-2 in the World Series before being eliminated by eventual national champion South Carolina, 4-1.

The KSU football team continued that success in the fall, rebounding from narrowly missing out on bowl eligibility in 2011 by posting an 11-1 regular season record and notching its first Mid-American Conference East Division title.

The Golden Flashes played in their first MAC title game in Detroit, losing in heartbreaking fashion to Northern Illinois, 44-37 in double overtime and missing out on a potential BCS bid.

Even with the defeat, KSU ended the regular season ranked in the top 25 of the Associated Press poll and earned a bid to the GoDaddy.com bowl, it's first bowl appearence in 40 years.

Downtown revitalization

The city of Kent received the Ohio Economic Development Association’s 2012 Best Project of the Year award for the ongoing downtown revitalization project that has seen the construction of multiple new businesses and structures.

A total of 32 new businesses have opened in its central business district in the past 24 months, with 20 more expected to do so in the next year. The opening of a multi-tenant building housing the Davey Tree Resource Group and Ametek, located on the College Town Kent block at the corner of Haymaker Parkway and Water Street, occurred on Sept. 4.

Work is also underway for a 300-space parking structure and the KSU Gateway/Esplanade, a walkway that will connect the western edge of the KSU campus to downtown, is on the horizon as well.

Kent City Schools adopt ALICE

In October, a group of community leaders, Kent City Schools officials and fire and law enforcement representatives met with parents, students and residents to announce that the district was implementing ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate), a national safety initiative being implemented across the entire district to improve building safety and emergency response.

Lt. Joseph A. Hendry Jr. of the Kent State Police Department, a nationally certified ALICE instructor, and other members of a panel discussion explained to parents, district employees and community members why ALICE was an improved means of dealing with active-shooter incidents.

Just over two months later, the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newton, Conn. left 26 students and school employees dead and reinforced the need for improved school safety in buildings from the elementary school level to the high school level across the United States.

Wells-Sherman House relocation approved

The Kent Planning Commission’s approval of the relocation of the Wells-Sherman House from Erie Street to North Water Street was one of the most controversial decisions by local government in 2012. The highly contested ruling pinned historical conservationists, who wanted to preserve the house previously occupied by members of the Kent family, against members of the community who wanted the vacant lot preserved for use by Standing Rock Cultural Arts, who used the property for green space, with permission from the land owner.

City council favored the preservation of the Wells-Sherman House to the North Water Street location, in the vacant lot near Scribbles Coffee. The council approved a $15,000 loan to assist with completing the project, although the entire price of the complete restoration is yet to be determined.

Councilwoman Tracy Wallach received some negative feedback about the issue when she voted to approve the loan for the project, then joined the nonprofit Kent Wells-Sherman House, Inc., committed to finishing the Wells-Sherman relocation. After many injunction requests and a temporary move to College Avenue, the Wells-Sherman House move to North Water Street is final, but the moving date is yet to be determined.

In your opinion, which storyline was the biggest for Kent this year? Leave your vote in the comment section below and we'll post the winning story on Monday.

Ohio.com correspondent Marchae Grair contributed to this report.