- Associated Press - Monday, December 22, 2014

A list of the top 10 stories of 2014 from the Ohio Associated Press, as voted on by member newspapers and broadcasters around the state:

1. Toxins from algae in Lake Erie contaminated Toledo’s water supply, leaving 400,000 people without tap water for two days in August. The crisis led to an effort by the state Legislature to stop farmers from spreading manure on top of frozen or saturated fields, and to plans by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop new guidelines that will give cities and water treatment plants a blueprint for dealing with similar situations.

2. In early December, the U.S. Justice Department issued a scathing report repudiating Cleveland police for excessive use of force, recklessness and civil rights violations. The report culminated an 18-month DOJ investigation, brought on by a November 2012 event in which 13 police officers fired 137 shots into a car after a high-speed chase, killing two unarmed suspects. It also came on the heels of a rookie police officer fatally shooting a 12-year-old boy who was holding a pellet gun in a city park Nov. 22. The officer said the gun looked real. Cleveland officials are negotiating with the DOJ over reforms.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers fans celebrated in the streets at the end of July when Akron native LeBron James announced he was coming back to northeast Ohio. The four-time MVP and two-time NBA champion said he was leaving the Miami Heat and returning to the team he left four years earlier largely due to the lure of home. The NBA’s biggest star had departed in 2010 on poor terms, despised by heartbroken fans who burned his jersey and scorned by an owner who felt betrayed. But all was forgiven when he announced he was coming home.

4. It was the winter than wouldn’t end. The winter of 2014 will be remembered for record snowfall, frigid temperatures and how long it all lasted. The first week of the year brought the now infamous polar vortex that pummeled Ohio and the Midwest with below-zero temperatures that broke decades-old records. The snow didn’t stop falling until well into March. As usual, the northern part of the state was socked the hardest. The Weather Channel called Toledo’s winter of 2013-14 the worst of any major city in the United States.

5. Cleveland leaders rejoiced when the Republican National Committee awarded the 2016 presidential nominating convention to the proud but beleaguered city. Now the pressure is on for the host organizing committee to raise the $60 million it promised Republicans to cover some of the convention costs. Eight cities sought the convention including Cincinnati and Columbus, also in the reliably competitive presidential battleground state of Ohio. Columbus is still a candidate for the Democrats’ 2016 convention.

Filling out the top 10 Ohio stories, in descending order, are:

- Gov. John Kasich easily coasted to a second term as Republican incumbents swept statewide races in the November midterm election.

- Democrat Ed FitzGerald’s campaign for governor implodes after reports said he lacked a permanent driver’s license and was found by police in an empty parking lot with a woman who isn’t his wife.

- Ohio continued to grapple with a surge in heroin abuse and overdose deaths.

- A Dallas nurse who visited family in Ohio was hospitalized with Ebola, leading to quarantines and increased monitoring in the state.

- Executions in Ohio were put on hold after inmate Dennis McGuire snorted and gasped several times while taking 26 minutes to die - the longest of any Ohio execution - in January in the country’s first execution using a two-drug combination.

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