2018. Year in Review

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

2018 is almost over and while some are happy to see it end, most KAKE News spoke with are hopeful for what 2019 holds in store.

"I think that was a shakeup that was waiting to happen for a long time," said Zahra Ehtisham about one of the continuing headlines of 2018 - problems within the Department of Children and Families (DCF).

A series of high profile cases highlighted just how serious those problems are.  In  Wichita this included the deaths of two little boys, Lucas Hernandez and Evan Brewer.  In both cases, DCF received multiple reports raising concerns about their safety.  Now, lawmakers say they're poised to make major changes to how DCF operates when the next legislative session begins January 14th.

Other crimes also made headlines.

The hunt and capture of Tyler Barriss, the man behind swatting calls that led to the officer involved shooting death of an innocent bystander, Andrew Finch. Barriss has pled guilty to federal charges in the case.  The state case is set to go to trial in January.  Meanwhile, Kansas lawmakers worked this year to make a death as a result of swatting a felony. 

The deaths of two law enforcement officers rocked Sedgwick County this year.   Wichita Police Officer Stacey Woodson and his 9-year-old son died in an off-duty crash.  Sedgwick County Deputy Robert Kunze died in September, shot in the line of duty while responding to a suspicious character call.

The weather was another big deal this year.  An EF-3 tornado crashed through the town of Eureka in June damaging nearly 100 homes.  In September and October floods covered roads and inched toward homes along the Ninnescah River and Cow Creek in Reno and Sedgwick Counties.

"We had an election," said Albert Koenig.

That election was behind many headlines that went national this year.  First, there was the deadlocked Republican primary that took a week to settle.

"We had a recount and our recount matched up perfectly.  So our election infrastructure is really solid," Koenig added.

An uproar over plans to move Dodge City's only polling site made international news and led to a still ongoing lawsuit.  The election ended with Kansans electing Democrat Laura Kelly as governor.  But the changes didn't end there. 

"Several of the Republicans leaving the party, switching parties," said Richard Wood.  "It says that this state is a little more progressive than people on the coast kind of think it is."

There was some good financial news in 2018. 

"Local businesses thriving," said Ehtisham.  "I think we've gone through a period where it kind of shutdown for a bit.  And I think it's coming back up."

Kansas now has more jobs than workers and companies are expanding.  In December Spirit AeroSystems announced it would be adding another 1,400 hundred jobs, soonest.

"There are efforts to have rejuvenation of the downtown area and the city in general," said Craig Nesler.

It was out with the old and in with the new in Wichita as Lawrence Dumont Stadium came tumbling down to make way for a new stadium and a new AAA ball club, the Baby Cakes.

"When people make positive efforts like that it's always a big deal and I hope those efforts continue," said Nesler.

These were by no means the only stories people will remember, but they were the most commonly mentioned ones among viewers KAKE News spoke with this weekend.  Others include the Horizontes mural on the old grain silos downtown and Bill Snyder's retirement.

Check out these photos from across KAKEland snapped by our viewers, staff and local officials. Do you have pictures to share with us? Email them to news@kake.com.

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