Previous Salisbury Post newsmakers of the year

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 31, 2020

At the end of each year since 1984, the staff of the Salisbury Post vote on a local person or thing that has made headlines and played a major role in local events.

1984: Salisbury native Elizabeth Dole, transportation secretary in the Reagan Administration, who was a rising star, along with husband Sen. Bob Dole, in national politics.

1985: David Murdock, owner of Cannon Mills since 1982, who fought off a union vote and then sold the company to Fieldcrest.

1986: Salisbury Post Publisher Jim Hurley III, whose leadership and investments led to several building projects downtown, at Catawba College and elsewhere.

1987: Edward Clement. one of the founders of Historic Salisbury Foundation, who stepped forward to fight the siting of a hazardous waste incinerator in Rowan.

1988: Tim Russell, Rowan County manager, who led the county through several thorny issues, including condemning land for a landfill.

1989: Don Martin, the first superintendent of the newly merged Rowan-Salisbury School System, who kept the plan from unraveling before it even started.

1990: Darrell Hinnant (now mayor of Kannapolis), executive director of the state’s hazardous waste management authority when the state was trying to site an incinerator on the Rowan-Iredell county line.

1991: Food Lion co-founder Ralph Ketner and wife Anne, who gave the newly restored Plaza to the city, started a housing program and donated substantially to several causes.

1992: Food Lion, then the nation’s fastest-growing grocery chain and the focus of a citical PrimeTime Live TV report, two congressional hearings and a Labor Department investigation.

1993: Newton Cohen, chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, whose change of heart helped convince voters to pass a $44 million school bond issue.

1994: Sheriff Bob Martin, who dealt with several brutal murders, political change and a construction project plagued by delays.

1995: Fieldcrest-Cannon Stadium, which saw disappointing attendance and a payment dispute in its first year of operation.

1996: Rowan Regional Medical Center, which saw the construction of the $14 million Wilson L. Smith Family Outpatient Clinic.

1997: Four children who died of abuse while their families were under investigation by or involved with the Department of Social Services: Budde Clark, Trola Miller, Christopher Jones and DeMallon Krider.

1998: Julian Robertson Jr., a Wall Street money manager who grew up in Salisbury, helped start The Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation with an $18 million endowment and whose multi-billion-dollar Tiger Fund made headlines.

1999: David Treme, Salisbury city manager, who hired a new police chief and caught flak for a policy prohibiting married couples from working in the same department.

2000: Displaced workers, people suddenly out of work as Cone Mills closes its Salisbury plant, other companies start layoffs and U.S. jobs go elsewhere.

2001: NASCAR icon Dale Earnhardt, who died after crashing into a wall at Daytona.

2002: Elizabeth Dole, this time for winning a seat in the U.S. Senate.

2003: U.S. soldiers from Rowan who were fighting in the war in Iraq.

2004: Dr. Albert J.D. Aymer, president of Hood Seminary, which has a growing enrollment and is moving from Livingstone to its own campus.

2005: Tim Russell, fired as county manager after hiring a private investigator with county find out who was mailing scathing criticisms of county government to community leaders, signing them, “Common Sense” (who has yet to be conclusively identified).

2006: Jack Thomson, director of Historic Salisbury Foundation, who oversaw a dramatic home restoration featured on the History Channel and fought against demolition of buildings on West Fisher Street downtown.

2007: Treasure Feamster, a Salisbury 13-year-old whose killing in gang crossfire brought attention to gangs and youth violence.

2008: Victor Isler Sr. and Justin Monroe, two Salisbury firefighters whose death in the Salisbury Millwork fire rocked the city.

2009: The Rowan County American Legion baseball team, which finished third in the nation in the Legion World Series in Fargo, N.D.

2010: Retiring D.A. Bill Kenerly, who in his last year on the job handled several murder cases and served as special prosecutor investigating former Gov. Mike Easley’s campaign finance practices.

2011: The student athlete, as local high schools win state championships in sports ranging from girls’ tennis to boys’ basketball.

2012: Doug Paris, named Salisbury city manager after starting with the city in 2006 as a summer intern.

2013: Erica Parsons, missing teenager.

2014: La Resistance, a local political action committee, which outspent many candidates and possibly affected the outcome of the primary and general elections.

2015: The Rowan County Little League Girls, a team of 13 middle-schoolers who brought home a softball world championship from Portland, Oregon.

2016: A’yanna Allen, a 7-year-old girl, who was murdered Dec. 4 while she slept in the bedroom she shared with her paternal grandmother.

2017: Al Heggins, who became Salisbury’s first-ever Black female mayor in her first bid for the Salisbury City Council.

2018: Rowan-Salisbury Schools, which made state history with its renewal status and ruled local features with a school closure plan.

2019: Chewy, an e-commerce company specializing in pet products that announced it would build a massive, new fulfillment center in Rowan County. It was the largest, single economic development announcement in terms of jobs in the county’s history.

2020: The Confederate monument known as “Fame,” which became a flashpoint for local protests in 2020. Those protests included gunshots fired in the air, resulted in police in riot gear downtown, tear gas deployed, a curfew and a state of emergency. The Salisbury City Council voted to approve a deal to move the monument as a result.