Number one last year is No. 1 again this year.
And, we can tell you now the construction of Verona Area High School is the early favorite to be in our top spot again one year from now.
That’s a rare occurrence for any “stories of the year” list, but it’s what happens when Verona builds one of the most expensive high schools in state history.
This year, however, the high school has company at the top spot, joined by a pair of other massive, multimillion-dollar construction projects that also have been an ongoing source of strife – the reconstructions of Verona Road and County Hwy. M. And two other major construction projects made our top-10 list: the Festival Foods grocery store and the Fireman’s Park renovation.
While the biggest source of frustration surrounding the school – the controversial secondary access road – had died down entering the year, it came with plenty of difficult topics. Attendance areas kept the school board busy into September, and the reworking of other policies associated with the shuffle of several other buildings, as a result, is ongoing.
Veronans have been waiting a decade for the Verona Road and County M projects, but restricting traffic on both major entries to Madison at the same time this summer was aggravating to say the least. Associated projects like the Fitchrona Road roundabout and the resurfacing of M south of the city added to the frustration and made people wonder whether traffic planners ever talk to one another.
At the No. 3 spot, Festival Foods put a presumably permanent end to Verona’s decades of being a one-grocery town.
Our No. 4 story was a sports shocker, with Verona’s boys soccer team winning the first state title in the program’s history.
We had a few more tie votes after that. Sharing the No. 5 spot were the $3 million upgrade of Fireman’s Park, including a splash pad, a new playground and a new parking area, and the untimely and ultimately involuntary exits of the city administrator and senior center director.
At Nos. 7 and 8 were the fire chief’s retirement after an uncomfortable final year in which a union called for his resignation and some investments in improving traffic and safety around Badger Ridge Middle School and elementary schools in the City of Verona.
Our final two spots, tied at 9, were also school issues: Changes in security protocols for as a result of national shootings and local fights and a decision to add Chinese instruction in the middle schools.