Talked-about stories of 2012 still vivid

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It’s been quite a year. I think I can safely say that it is a blessing to see another one. Still, is it just me or, quite frankly, did 2012 have some interesting, touching and funny moments? Here are a few that come to mind.

One of the most touching stories of the year was that of 24-year-old Aimee Copeland. Aimee had a two-month battle against a bacterial infection. She had to have her left leg, right foot and both hands amputated to stay ahead of the infection that almost took her life.

Copeland’s ordeal began when she was riding a zipline across the Little Tallapoosa River. The line snapped, and as she fell she received a cut in her left calf that took 22 staples to close. Days later, she went to an emergency room where doctors determined she had contracted necrotizing fasciitis.

The story of how Aimee battled back captivated and touched all of us, and it was a story that made me cry.

THEN THERE were those moments that made me laugh. In particular, I remember a quote from my dear friend Gwen Fulcher Young (she often makes me laugh; it’s part of her charm) when she made a comment about Republican 12th Congressional District candidate Lee Anderson.

Her quote that “sending Anderson to Washington would be like sending Honey Boo Boo up there” not only made The Atlanta Journal-Constitution but had people falling on the floor laughing. I was one of them.

Then there were moments that made me ask, “What the heck?” One that comes to mind was Augusta attorney Joe Neal’s involvement in a sexual assault case.

Neal and his ex-wife, Caroline Neal, originally were charged with rape and furnishing alcohol to a minor. According to an incident report, a baby sitter said she went to the Neals’ home and was given alcohol and marijuana, causing her to become intoxicated. At the time, the then-18-year-old said she was forced into a sexual situation with the Neals.

But a lack of evidence in the case led to a reduction of charges. Neal started serving three years’ probation in June after he accepted a plea bargain that reduced the felony rape charge to two misdemeanors: disorderly conduct and possession of marijuana. He changed his guilty plea on the latter charge to “no contest.” Caroline Neal pleaded guilty to furnishing alcohol to a person younger than age 21.

AND FINALLY, there were moments that made history in Augusta. Of note was Richard Roundtree succeeding longtime sheriff Ronnie Strength as the new sheriff of Richmond County, and Kellie Kenner McIntyre becoming the county’s new solicitor general.

Richmond County hasn’t seen a new sheriff in years, and in the city’s 278-year history Richard is the first African-American to hold the office. Likewise, the city never has had an African-American female solicitor before Kellie.

There are many other moments that stick out in my mind that affected our city, or my thoughts and emotions, in 2012. I look forward optimistically to moments that will have an impact on us in 2013, and I look forward to laughing, cringing and being proud with all of you.

(The writer is a radio personality with radio station WKSP-FM (96.3), and a columnist for The Augusta Chronicle’s Applause section. She can be reached at cherbest@963kissfm.com.)


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