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Readers’ picks for top stories of 2018

December 30, 2018 GMT

The detention in late summer of dozens of people in the O’Neill area by officials with Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials was named the top area news story of year by people who participated in the Daily News’ online poll.

In July, workers from an O’Neill tomato greenhouse complex, a potato processing facility and a cattle feedlot were detained. They were suspected of being in the country illegally. Charges were also filed against a number of people connected to an alleged conspiracy to exploit illegal labor for profit, fraud and money laundering.


Plans to develop the riverfront area of downtown Norfolk also ranked among the year’s top stories. The project involves the Lower Elkhorn NRD, the City of Norfolk, private supporters and others. The plan includes more recreation, business and living opportunities for Norfolk residents and visitors.

The reopening of the renovated Norfolk Public Library last spring was also high on the list of reader favorites.

In May, the facility unveiled its 16,000-square-foot addition that provides additional meeting space as well as space for books and materials. The renovation included technology upgrades, allowing more people to make use of library computers or their own electronic devices.

Also among the year’s top local stories was the sentencing of a Norfolk woman to 55-75 years in prison on the charge of child abuse resulting in death.

Carla Montoya, 23, will have to spend at least 27½ years in the Nebraska Department of Corrections before she is eligible for parole, and she must spend at least 37½ years in prison before her mandatory release. She was charged in the death of her 4-year-old daughter, Caylee Hoehne.

The closing of one of Norfolk’s largest department stores was also considered a significant news story by some voters. In August, Herberger’s closed its store at the Sunset Plaza after being in that location since 1982.

Other top stories for the year include:

— The 2018 elections resulted in a new Madison county sheriff, clerk, register of deeds, commissioner and a new city council representative in Norfolk.

— Our Savior Lutheran Church moved to its new location on West Omaha Avenue, and the Norfolk Public Schools began renovation of the former church building on Norfolk Avenue.

— Involvement by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could delay construction on a Highway 275 expressway segment in Northeast Nebraska.

— After months of study, Madison County updated its wind energy regulations.

— A late January blizzard that struck the area highlighted a year of weather events that included considerably more rainfall than normal.