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The Top 10 local stories of 2011 | News

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The Top 10 local stories of 2011
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The Top 10 local stories of 2011

St. Petersburg, Florida -- What had people in the Bay area talking and what will we remember from 2011?

How about the Bay area's newest movie star, a Pinellas County jury that decided a mom was not guilty of killing her 2-year-old and a sports night that some call the greatest in Major League Baseball history.

Below is 10 News Top 10 local stories from 2011.

10 - In May, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted an above-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic with up to 19 named storms and six major hurricanes. But while storms like Hurricane Irene clobbered the East coast, Tampa Bay was once again spared in 2011.

9 - While her husband was serving overseas in the Middle East, Julie Schenecker is accused of killing her two teenage kids, Calyx and Beau. The case made national headlines and now Schenecker is awaiting trial.

8 - Tampa was not awarded another Super Bowl in 2011, but preparations continued for an event that some say will be bigger than several Super Bowls. We're talking about the Republican National Convention scheduled for the week of August 27, 2012. The event is expected to attract more than 50,000 people to the area including about 15,000 journalists and more than 10,000 protesters.

7 - In September, the Bay area lost a legend when for Tampa Bay Buccaneer Lee Roy Selmon died at the age of 56. The first player drafted by the Bucs, Selmon was also the former Athletic Director at the University of South Florida. Selmon died after suffering a stroke.

6 - It started with a high-speed chase and shots fired as a police officer in Pasco County and ended in Colorado following a national manhunt.  In between, the Dougherty Gang -- as some called Lee Grace Dougherty and her two brothers -- are accused of robbing a bank in Georgia. The three are now behind bars awaiting trial.

5 - The Bay area's newest movie star is not a person, but rather an dolphin named Winter. By the time Warner Brothers' movie "Dolphin Tale" premiered in September, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium where Winter lives had already set a new annual attendance record because of all the people wanting to see the bottlenose dolphin. With the movie Winter the Dolphin is now known worldwide.

4 - When it came to sports in 2011, the Bucs' collapse certainly had people talking and fans staying home. But it was the what some called the greatest night in Major League Baseball history that will be remembered forever. Down by seven runs heading into the 8th inning and their playoff hopes on the line, the Tampa Bay Rays rallied late with home runs by Evan Longoria and Dan Johnson to beat the New York Yankees in 11 innings and make the post-season. Those who left the Trop early will likely never forgive themselves.

3 - Florida Gov. Rick Scott made headlines and enemies in February when he rejected $2.4 billion in federal funding for a high-speed rail line linking Tampa and Orlando. Supporters of the project argued construction of the line would have created more than 20,000 jobs.

2 - After six weeks of testimony a jury from Pinellas County found Casey Anthony not guilty of murdering her 2-year-old daughter Caylee. The verdict sparked national outrage, with defense attorney Jose Baez later saying there were no winners in the case.

1 - The top local story of 2011 was the passing of five more Bay area officers in the line of duty. In January Sgt. Tom Baitinger and Jeffrey Yaslowitz were killed while trying to arrest a man hiding in a St. Petersburg attic. Just over a month later, the city lost another officer when David Crawford was shot and killed while investigating a report of a prowler downtown. Then in July the Hernando County Sheriff's office lost Deputy John Mecklenburg. The married father of two was killed during a high speed chase when he lost control of his cruiser and hit a tree. Finally Lakeland Police Officer Arnulfo Crispin was killed this month, allegedly shot in the head by a 19-year-old while investigating some suspicious activity at a neighborhood park. Crispin was laid to rest on Tuesday.

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