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Year's highlights recalled

December 30, 2000

Year's highlights recalled



By ANDREW SCHOTZ And DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writers


What was the most noteworthy event of 2000?

That's easy, said Daryl Wigle, 68, of Hagerstown: "The breaking of the DNA code."

For at least three-quarters of the Tri-State residents interviewed Saturday afternoon, the 2000 presidential election sprung to mind first. More than half had trouble thinking of any other memorable moments.

Wigle, however, didn't hesitate when he mentioned the breakthrough in the Human Genome Project, which, he said, mattered more than who the next president would be.

Lisa Stanton, 35, of Hagerstown, also passed over the election in choosing the big news of the year.

"My daughter was born," she said. Maggi, whose birthday was March 15, is "a miracle baby," Stanton said.

In Martinsburg, Edward Mitchell, had a list. It was a great year personally for Mitchell, 49, of Bunker Hill, W.Va.

He bought his first home ever in Bunker Hill this year, he adopted a baby girl, and he was especially happy over his marriage to his wife, Alcapriece.

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Some of the choices for the second most important event of 2000 ranged from sports to weather to Mideast peace.

"The failed peace conference," said Fred Meford, 67, of Falling Waters, W.Va., referring to negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

"The coldest December I can remember in a while," said Patty George, 40, of Hagerstown.

Gary Stilwell, 51, of Martinsburg, like many people interviewed, said the election race between George W. Bush and Al Gore was easily the biggest thing that happened this year. Stilwell said he "can't get it out of my mind."

Some people said they were glad to see the Democrats lose power.

"The situation with Clinton," Harold Semler, 72, of Funkstown, chose as his top event, broadly encapsulating a frustration shared by a few fellow shoppers.

"Clinton's out of office and I'm glad," said Tom Nicoletti, 55, of Hagerstown.

Between Florida's election difficulties and the tug-of-war over young Elian Gonzalez, Luanne Murphy of Smithsburg said she "never realized how politically powerful the state is."

"We think the election was pretty amazing," said Harold Spigler, 69, of Hagerstown.

Asked to choose a runner-up, Donna Spigler replied, "Fuel prices."

"The Microsoft trial," said Mark Floyd, 24, of Williamsburg, Va., accompanying a friend Kara Switzer on a trip to the Weis Market store at Dual Highway and Eastern Boulevard in Hagerstown. "It's not finished yet. That could be very noteworthy."

Switzer initially offered no thoughts. A few minutes after entering the store, she dashed back out and rattled off a few ideas.

"Firestone (tires). Elian Gonzalez. High gas prices," she said. "We were talking about it as we went in."

Weis employee Thomas Grams, 17, of Boonsboro, who watched and listened outside as a few dozen people gave their answers, thought of a new top story every few minutes, as each occurred to him.

He started with sports headlines, which he follows most closely.

"The failure of the Redskins," he said.

He added: the Mets and Yankees squaring off in the World Series, the dominance of golfer Tiger Woods.

Straying from the sports world, he also listed the bombing of the USS Cole, the shutdown of the Napster Web site and the acquittal of four New York City police officers on murder charges after shooting an unarmed man.

For Mike Ficks, 44, of Mercersburg, Pa., Little League baseball was enough to keep him happy for the year. For the third straight year, the Mercersburg Orioles captured the Little League championship, said Ficks.

Clarence Denton, 65, of Shepherdstown, W.Va., was another one who could only think about the drawn-out presidential election. His twin grandsons, however, were thinking about big football games they played this year and the demise of Charles M. Schulz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip.

One grandson, Chris Day, couldn't believe that Schulz died this year.

Peanuts was Day's favorite cartoon, and he has several books about Schulz's creations.

"The weird thing of it was his last comic was being (published) when he died," said Day, 12, of Charles Town, W.Va.

Patty Custer's second choice for noteworthy news, behind the election, was the 911 address conversion in Berkeley County.

"It hasn't all been positive," said Custer, 44, of Hedgesville, W.Va.

She said she twice returned a Christmas card that was meant for someone else, and marked with her old address. Twice, it was delivered to her house again.

She gave up and took it to the post office.

Todd Caton, 33, of Martinsburg, said the ordeal surrounding Berkeley County Sheriff's Deputy Wilbur Johnson caught his eye this year. Johnson, a 12-year veteran of the sheriff's department, was fired by Sheriff Ronald Jones for wearing a political hat that supported W. Randy Smith, who defeated Jones in the sheriff's race in November.

Caton said he believes what happened to Johnson was not right.

"I think they kind of did him ignorant myself," Caton said while walking through the Martinsburg Mall Saturday afternoon.

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