Favorite stories of 2011 on HeraldNet

One last list before we call it a year. These are my favorite stories from the past year on HeraldNet. This list isn’t based on numbers or surveys; it’s just one man’s opinion about the stories I enjoyed the most, in chronological order:

Pizza: Where’s the best in county? This post to our food blog is notable mainly for the dozens and dozens of great responses in the comments section. Apparently people have an opinion about pizza.

Steve Wolfe recounts his fight with swine flu; his twin didn’t survive: A really moving story by Sharon Salyer based on an interview with Camano Island resident Steve Wolfe, who battled swine flu at the same time as his twin brother. “They said I almost died four or five times,” he said.

Snohomish County’s 10 tallest buildings: With the addition of the new Providence hospital, our Need to Know blog looked around at Snohomish County’s skyline. It’s fun to see how many you can name.

How I came to ignore the NBA: Former Sonics writer Rich Myhre wrote about his distaste for the NBA after the team’s exit from Seattle. As our office’s resident Sonics fan, I couldn’t agree more.

Fallen sailor’s recordings from Vietnam rediscovered decades later: Debra Smith’s terrific story about a Snohomish family that got another chance to hear a long lost voice.

100 years since Snohomish County’s rocky first flight: I’m a sucker for local history stories, and this is a fun one. The 1911 demonstration flight ended, of course, in a crash.

Graduation speeches from the class of 2011: We posted graduation speeches from dozens of local high school students and mashed them up to see what words and phrases came up most often.

Owner turns unassuming market into a ‘beer utopia’: Shane McDaniel’s Lake Stevens market is an unlikely place for beer lovers. Yet, there it is. The biggest irony is that McDaniel can’t handle the carbonation so he doesn’t drink beer.

Meet the weeds that invade Snohomish County: We listed the top 10 noxious weeds in Snohomish County — also known as my springtime hit list. It’s good to know the names of your enemies.

A field guide to Jetty Island’s flora and fauna: A great list of the plants and animals of Jetty Island. Look at it now and maybe you can forget we’re in the depths of winter; just don’t look outside afterward.

Nearly forgotten photos show Everett during a time of change in the ’70s: Neil House spent years as Everett’s official city photographer. Decades later, the Everett Public Library dug his slides out of storage, unearthing a time capsule of sorts.

Norman Mannhalter: Security in his name: My favorite of this year’s Aptonyms, Mannhalter stops the bad guys.

There’s more to Kimberly-Clark mill than pulp and steam: When the closure of Everett’s Kimberly-Clark mill first seemed likely, Pete Jackson wrote this poignant piece for us.

Kenny Easley: Giving his all: One of the standouts from Scott Johnson’s series, “The Game of My Life,” was about one of my favorite players as I was growing up. Easley gave up a lot for the game, but has no regrets.

The invisible team: My favorite from our Sidelines series in the fall, about what’s happening off the field during football season. This one looked at the referees.

The battle within: Trying to find the man inside the Marine: Sarah Weiser’s story and photos about Jordan Finley of Lake Stevens showed what it’s really like trying to get back to a normal life after being in combat.

Everett played key part in history of Prohibition: Did I mention I am a sucker for local history? Fascinating to learn how Everett went dry nearly two decades before the rest of the country.

In a life suddenly changed, a spirit undimmed: Gale Fiege’s story about Tara Evans of Darrington really struck a chord with people, with good reason. A remarkable story of resilience.

Sharpen your wildlife photography skills with these simple tips: Some great advice from Mike Benbow for those of us who love taking pictures, but don’t really know what we’re doing.

Christmas wishes: At Cocoon House, the needs are both great and modest: Kristi O’Harran’s stories of teens at the Everett shelter were wrenching, but the response that followed was amazing. People gave more than $65,000 in cash and gift cards. That’s the kind of story that makes many of us proud to work at a newspaper.

On that note, happy new year!

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