Our favorite stories and photos of 2012
• Photographer Mark Mulligan chose the photo above of a cougar being released to the wild. He explained a little more about how he got the photo here.
• Mulligan teamed with his wife, Annie, and reporter Debra Smith on "The Last Smokestack," a terrific series about the loss of the Kimberly-Clark mill and the jobs people have relied on for so many years.
• Reporter Bill Sheets chose this story about an unpleasant side-effect of the mill's closure: the fact that we now confront a toxic mess on Everett's waterfront.
• Reporter Diana Hefley chose this story about a program that pairs artists with kids being supervised by the county's drug court. It's a connection that's making a huge difference in the lives of young people.
• Reporter Noah Haglund chose this story about Clearwater Commons, where people are building a new neighborhood and aiming to make it as environmentally friendly as possible.
• Haglund and Scott North both pointed to this story about County Executive Aaron Reardon's use of public resources to raise campaign money. This story was the result of months of investigative work.
• Features writer Theresa Goffredo picked a whole series -- "The Grid." This was a fun set of stories about the names of Everett's downtown streets and the history behind them. Great reading for local history buffs like me.
• In another trip back in time, reporter Alejandro Dominguez wrote about daredevil Al Faussett, who went over Sunset Falls on the Skykomish River in 1926 and lived to tell the tale.
• Reporter Rikki King chose this story about Gary Parks, a firefighter who died in an unsolved arson at Everett Community College 25 years ago, and the memories he left behind.
• Sports reporter Nick Patterson followed Michael Henrichsen's two-year quest to have Billy Idol play his birthday party, all the way to its successful conclusion.
• Photographer Jennifer Buchanan chose her trek to Boundary Bay for the snowy owls. Buchanan also got a good look at the "TateGate" or "Fail Mary" -- or whatever you'd like to call the glorious Seahawks victory over Green Bay.
• Reporter Amy Daybert's highlight is her story about Mike Dillon and his company, Dillon Works, a place in Mukilteo where you can find a life-size pteranodon clutching a No. 2 pencil.
• Features writer Andrea Brown chose her story about Ron O'Leary, aka "the Zumba king." As Brown says, "he really knows how to shake his thang."
• Reporter Gale Fiege chose her story about the MusicBox project, which documents the stories and songs of women who perform traditional American music. Lots of great photos and videos with her story.
• Julie Muhlstein struck a chord with a lot of people when she wrote about the demise of the distinctive glass murals at Clyde Revord Motors in Everett. We lost a local landmark for the sake of corporate branding. Muhlstein also pointed to her June column about Helen Jackson, written after Jackson's family disclosed she has Alzheimer's disease.
• Reporter Eric Stevick chose this story about corrections officer Jayme Biendl, a moving tribute to her a year after she was killed while on duty in Monroe. Stevick had two other great nominees:
• This story about a Cascade High School football player forming a close bond with a seemingly unreachable non-verbal autistic boy.
• And this story of a single father who's recovering from heroin addiction.
• Sports reporter Scott M. Johnson picked this story about University of Washington basketball recruit Katie Collier, who overcame leukemia during her senior year of high school.
• Reporter Sharon Salyer wrote a nice series of stories about how the Supreme Court's ruling to uphold the health-care law affected people in Snohomish County. She chose this one as her favorite.
• Our Need to Know blog featured some great work this year, including this look at the Kimberly-Clark mill site and this bank of election data, where you can look up how your neighbors voted on the big issues.
• This story by Katie Murdoch is one a lot of people found really inspirational. It's about David Quinn, a former child actor who was inspired by AIDS patient Ryan White in the 1980s, became a multimillionaire and then an Edmonds teacher.
• Sports reporter Rich Myhre selected this story about Henry Mathews, a standout athlete who left a huge mark on Everett High School 50 years ago.
• Photographer Dan Bates' favorite work came from teaming up with Jim Haley on our two-part series, "The Forest." Bates took some other-worldly photos of the inhabitants of an old-growth forest near Arlington.
• Sports reporter David Krueger went to great depths to get his story about learning to swim from the experts on the Cascade High School swimming team. We have video to document that this really happened.
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