Newton's Top 10 Stories of 2012
A hurricane, a missing student, a taser incident and new restaurants made this year's top stories.
As 2012 wraps up, we here at Newton Patch want to look back at the headlines that brought you, the readers, to our site.
The year was certainly a busy one. It included the tragic death of a Boston College student, a scandal involving a teacher's arrest, a hurricane and plenty of restaurant news.
And while we understand there are many more important news stories that hit Newton this year, we're bringing you the headlines that had the most readership. Tell us in the comments section below what you think the year's biggest Newton news story was.
Here are Newton Patch's top 10 most read stories of 2012:
Although the November ballot was not filled with many local races, Newton voters flocked to the polls for Election Day 2012. And, apparently, they flocked to Newton Patch to find their results. In addition to the presidential race, Newton voters were closely watching the Fourth Congressional District race between Joe Kennedy III and Sean Bielat, the U.S. Senate race between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, and the contest for the 11th Middlesex District between Kay Khan and Greer Tan Swiston.
In June, Skipjack's restaurant on Needham Street closed its doors after 15 years in Newton. Although the restaurant owners still have locations in Boston and Foxborough, the owners have said they are "committed to finding a new location in the area."
Newton had a special visit on June 25 from a black bear, which was reportedly sighted on the Newton/Needham line in the wooded area near Second Avenue and Highland Avenue. The next day, a black bear was caught just over the Newton line in Chestnut Hill. However, wildlife officials believed the Chestnut Hill bear was the same bear caught wandering Cape Cod earlier this year, but not the bear spotted on the Newton/Needham line a day earlier.
In the wake of the tragic shooting at a Newtown, Conn. elementary school, Superintendent David Fleishman assured residents that support would be available to Newton students. The following week, the superintendent continued to issue updates on the district's progress in assessing security measures. A vigil was also held at City Hall to remember and mourn the shooting victims.
The arrest of Underwood Elementary School teacher David Ettlinger rocked the Newton community in early 2012. Ettlinger was arrested on Jan. 17 for a slew of child pornography charges as well as accusations of indecent assault and battery in both Middlesex and Suffolk counties. Officials say none of Ettlinger's victims were Newton students, although it was later revealed that Ettlinger secretly videotaped some of his students at Underwood Elementary School.
Ettlinger was eventually charged in federal court for his alleged involvement with a global child porn network. His sentencing is expected to come down in early 2013.
Just a few weeks after Ettlinger was arrested, a Newton Free Library employee was also arrested on child pornography charges.
After decades on Beacon Street in Newton, the institution known as South Pacific closed its doors for good. It is unclear as to why the Chinese restaurant closed, but its legions of fans and nostalgic customers are still mourning the restaurant's closure. In fact, a memorial page that has been set up for the restaurant on Facebook.
There was lots of buzz surrounding the new farm-to-table restaurant that opened in Newton Centre this summer. Chef Chad Burns and his wife, Sharon, opened Farmstead Table on Union Street back in August, and plenty of readers came to Newton Patch to find out what the new eatery was all about.
One of the more tragic stories we followed in Newton this year was that of Franco Garcia, a Newton resident and Boston College senior who went missing in February after leaving a Cleveland Circle bar. Garcia, who was a member of several BC music ensembles, was set to graduate this year as a Chemistry major.
After Garcia went missing, his friends and family put together vigils, rallies and search parties. State Police scoured the area looking for evidence, including the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, with negative results.
Despite four days of searching the water, Garcia's body surfaced in the reservoir almost six weeks later. Days after his body was found, Garcia's friends and family remembered the young man's life at a funeral Mass held at Boston College.
Although Newton did not see the same kind of damage as New York and New Jersey, one of our top stories of this year was our information center during Hurricane Sandy. Readers flocked to this story to find out more information on power outages were in the city, road closures and updates on the storm.
Our most read story of the year involved Nashua, N.H. police arresting and using a Taser on a Newton woman at a New Hampshire shopping mall. The woman was arrested after an incident at the Apple Store where she allegedly tried to buy more iPhones than the store's policy allowed. However, the woman claims she did not understand the store employees or police, as she does not speak English. Confusion over the Apple iPhone purchase policy may have also led to the arrest and taser incident.
Although it did not make our top 10 list of most read stories, the firing of Newton Police Chief Matthew Cummings was a big story in Newton this year. Cummings was fired following accusations that he verbally harassed and kicked his former secretary. A full investigation and hearing was held for Cummings, who had been with the department for more than 30 years.
The secretary at the center of the story, Jeanne Sweeney Mooney, was asked to leave the Police Department in September 2011 after she allegedly stole money from the department. Her trial is scheduled for March.