You may ask, How do you translate the year into a digit? Well, here's the plain truth: You can't, at least not scientifically.
But we couldn't give up the idea. It appeals to the Cartesian in all of us. So we tried. All year we've kept track of the news and given every week a numerical score between -8 and +8. Then we added them up, averaged them and came up with a single number for the year.
So here's Richmond's score for 2001: +1.
Frankly, that surprises us. After all, this is the year we had Sept. 11, a recession, a mud-slinging statewide election, and a battle between the General Assembly and the governor that wound up with no budget being passed.
But as we worked our way through the year's news, we discovered that sprinkled throughout the year were little gems of good news like the little girl who called 911 when her mother collapsed. And the Governor's School students who outthought some of the nation's best in a nationwide contest again. And the way people kept being released from prison after proving their innocence.
These are events that don't always stick in our minds over time. We always remember the big stuff the bad news that scares the pants off us and keeps us up at night. But too often we forget those little gifts that can make life joyous, that can give us the encouragement to soldier on a little longer.
In tallying the year, we had the pleasant experience of rediscovering those little gifts the world brought us in 2001. Maybe next year we'll all be even more aware of them.
Gov. Jim Gilmore gets a big start to the year when he's picked to head the Republican National Committee, in part as a reward for his hard work for now-President George W. Bush. This surprises some who had predicted that Gilmore would be anointed attorney general.
Sheriff Michelle Mitchell and Commonwealth's Attorney David Hicks start the year under fire. Mitchell, it appears, has been reimbursing herself for vacation time she didn't take; Hicks has paid himself more than $40,000 in bonuses over three years. Their political futures look threatened. (In November, incidentally, both win their elections handily.)
President Clinton (remember him?) appoints Richmond lawyer Roger L. Gregory (and former partner of Clinton pal L. Douglas Wilder) to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Gregory becomes that Court's first black judge.
City Councilwoman Reva Trammell subpoenas the rest of City Council to court. Her lawyer "Magic" Mike Morchower says he will ask them if they have ever done what Trammell is accused of doing: ordering a city employee to do something.
Richmonder D'Angelo is nominated for three Grammys and, in February, wins two for "How Does It Feel," from his much-praised second album, "Voodoo." Midlothian alumna Aimee Mann gets two nominations.
City prosecutors file suit to close Cafine's, a downtown nightclub, because its co-owner and eight other men have been arrested and charged with distributing ecstasy and other drugs. Right-thinking Americans are shocked to realize that some people going to clubs ingest illegal substances.
Circuit City fires 275 workers. Sa'ad El-Amin gets robbed at gunpoint. Manchester Middle School drops its dress code, which had required khakis. A report says city cops stop black drivers twice as often as white ones; the city cops dispute the report.
The University of Virginia announces it has raised $1.43 billion in its seven-year capital campaign. That's billion. With a "b."
As part of a shudder of change rippling through Richmond radio, beloved WRVA-AM morning DJ Tim Timberlake gives up his microphone. Out-of-towner Jimmy Barrett is tapped to replace him. In another change, disgruntled former Gov. Doug Wilder quits his radio talk show on the air.
Census data say the area's population is increasing overall, particularly in the suburbs. In addition, the region's level of racial diversity has leaped upward. It turns out that many people have moved out of the city and into the surrounding counties; the city's leaders wring their hands but never publicly mention tax rates.
The Ghetto Burger gets lots of publicity is it offensive? Is it cool a la "ghetto fabulous"? sells like crazy and stays on the menu.
Forbes FYI names The Jefferson the best hotel in America.
Gilmore names "European-American Heritage and History Month" and then hastily yanks it after discovering it originated from slippery racist David Duke's group. Gilmore says he didn't know of the connection.
The governor also loosens the state's "21-day rule" that prevents convicted people from introducing new evidence more than 21 days after the conviction. The shift allows new DNA evidence to be tested.
City Councilwoman Gwen Hedgepeth vows to fast and wear black until she gets $2.8 million for a community center. State Sen. Henry Marsh is mugged by two teens who steal his jacket and $400. He shrugs it off.
After months (if not years) of wrangling with the governor and each other, the members of the General Assembly give up their attempt to pass a budget. For the first time ever the state will operate without a budget.
The last phase of Route 288 breaks ground. The $236 million section of the long-awaited highway will bring Goochland and its environs a lot closer to the rest of the Richmond area.
Republicans, heading into their state convention, are gently warned by the party leadership not to publicly bad-mouth each other. Many Republicans focus on the "publicly" part, and continue to eviscerate each other in private.
Councilman El-Amin calls Mayor Tim Kaine a "wussy" and accuses him of mishandling the Council's budget. Kaine calls the attack politically motivated. No really?
Southwest Airlines announces it will start serving Richmond.
The summer gets even more stultifying than usual, as ozone and mold swarm the air. City Council votes to destroy the Grace Street diverter. The state police switch their Stetsons for Smokey-the-Bear-style hats. Gus the cat dies after many years lolling in his Carytown bookstore window.
Councilwoman Hedgepeth announces that she's giving up her "fast." From May 7 to May 30, she didn't eat at all; in June, she gave herself four hours to eat in the morning; in July, she gave herself eight hours. Then she discloses that she's going to wear clothing in colors other than black after finding some good deals at Hecht's.
The candidates debate about how often and where they will debate. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts decides to allow breastfeeding. Ex-Gov. Wilder holds a press conference to announce that he hasn't decided where a national slavery museum should go.
The University of Richmond will buy the former corporate headquarters of Reynolds Metals Co., now owned by Alcoa. Philip Morris stops sending a free carton of cigarettes every month to its retirees. The feud between Dominion and residents of Oregon Hill starts to heat up; Dominion redesigns its proposed headquarters to lower much of its roofline. Not enough, the Oregon Hill people say.
City Council approves the $3.15 million purchase of the Miller & Rhoads building downtown and the Woolworth's building next door. And get this 6th Street Marketplace is scheduled to be torn down.
The State Fair opens, hoping to grab younger visitors with such attractions as skateboarder Tony Hawk. The racing pigs, however, still draw big.
Chesterfield officials vote to allow what the Times-Dispatch quaintly calls "cross-gender massages."
Sept. 11 happens.
The national slavery museum goes not to Richmond or Petersburg, but to Fredericksburg (!).
Mark Earley skips a debate sponsored by the Junior League of Richmond and Make Women Count, and sends instead his wife, Cynthia. Earley's camp blames scheduling conflicts.
The Richmond region freaks out over reports of possible anthrax sightings, all of which prove unfounded. State health officials push some localities to participate in a $259 million shell game with Medicaid money. Fires break out all over Chesterfield County.
Halloween goes on (pretty much) as scheduled, despite a rampant rumor that terrorists will bomb the malls.
Mark Warner wins after spending $19.9 million, or about $20.20 per vote as does fellow Democrat (and ex-Richmond mayor) Tim Kaine. Republicans Mark Earley and Jay Katzen lose (so do a host of others including would-be attorney general Donald McEachin and House of Delegates hopeful John Conrad, a former city councilman). When examining what happened to Earley, the national Republican Party points at Jim Gilmore.
Jeff Cox, 32, is released from prison after being held 11 years. New evidence proves he was innocent of the charges of murder, abduction and burglary that had sent him to life plus 50 years.
The nationally televised University of Virginia-Michigan State University at the Richmond Coliseum brings Richmond a new level of public humiliation when condensation on the floor turns the court into a skating rink.
A Hanover man is cleared of the rape he was convicted of in 1982. Marvin Lamont Anderson, who is out on parole, is set free. Prosecutors reopen the case.
The Richmond Marriott files for bankruptcy.
And, finally, the holidays arrive just in time to start a new year.
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