Here are the top five stories of 2012 in Barberton as selected by Barberton.Ohio.com correspondent Courtney Kerrigan:
Barberton school levy fails
Barberton City Schools are still feeling the effects of November’s failed school levy.
Voters declined to pass the 8.52-mill levy with 54 percent against it. A similar levy failed in November 2011 and again in August of this year.
Prior to the most recent failed levy, schools had cut bussing and implemented pay to play for extracurricular activities in an attempt to slash the budget.
Barberton schools will see more cuts now, mainly in the classrooms. Art and music classes could be eliminated from elementary schools, kindergarten classes could be cut short and students may only learn the core subjects.
City Council outlaws feeding stray animals at night
What started as a simple health and sanitation issue blossomed into several months of meetings, ordinance revisions and arguments.
A heated debate over the prevention of feeding stray animals wrapped up on Dec. 17 when council passed an ordinance prohibiting Barberton residents from keeping food out at night.
Opposition to the law cited concerns regarding animal abuse, contradictions and lack of clarity within the ordinance and unexpected inspections from law officers.
However, City Council unanimously voted in support of the law, explaining that residents can still put food outside during the day, but it must be cleaned up before dark.
Lake Cinemas Theater closing
When a local Barberton newspaper reported that Lake Cinemas was closing by the end of the year, the theater’s Facebook page went abuzz with concern and anger from residents and local theater frequenters.
To Phil Canfora, the current tenant, it wasn’t closing. An agreement he made with a former mayor allowed him to continue reeling films and popping popcorn without paying rent.
Mayor Bill Judge put out a request for proposed use in November searching for new development ideas for the facility. A committee met Dec. 18 to discuss the only applicant: Canfora.
Barberton seeks new home for police department, courts
Since the municipal building was constructed in 1952, the police department, clerk’s office and courts have doubled in size. People sit on top of one another while others occupy broom closets as offices, Judge David Fish said.
Although still in the beginning stages, the city is looking to expand the police department and courts into what’s known as a justice center.
With a $50,000 grant in hand, the city will start off the new year working on finding a home for the center.
Barberton man returns home after time in Haitian prison
After 50 days of imprisonment in Haiti, Jason “Zeke” Petrie was released and returned home to Barberton where he told his story.
Petrie spent the last 21 years in Haiti as an interpreter and contact for foreign journalists, but it wasn’t until May 18, 2012 that he was arrested during a pro-military march. He was accused of involvement with a conspiracy to overthrow the government.
With a sense of humor and respect for other inmates, Petrie overcame tight quarters, rat infestation, the stench of defecation and a hostile environment to return home to Barberton in July.
He said he will spend his freedom with his children and telling his story to others.
Which story do you think is the biggest story of 2012 for Barberton? Let us know in the comment section below and we'll announce the winner on Monday.