A look back: The biggest stories in our region for 2017

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — There was no shortage of big stories in 2017. Richmond rang in the New Year with new leadership in the City.

“Now is the time to get to work,” said 35-year-old Levar Stoney just moments after being sworn in as the City’s new and youngest Mayor.

In his very first act as Mayor, he married a local gay couple. His first big test in leadership came just a few days later when an early January snow blanketed the City.

“Please do your best to stay off the roads,” he warned Richmonders.

Unlike the year before, Richmonders gave the snow preps and response a thumbs up.

A couple weeks later, the man responsible for a horrific murder spree that left seven people dead including Richmonder’s Bryan and Kathryn Harvey and their two young daughters, was executed by lethal injection.

Convicted killer Ricky Gray was pronounced dead until 9:42 p.m.

But there were issues, it took a lot longer than expected because of trouble with administering the IV. It prompted a new controversial protocol. Witnesses are now banned from the execution chamber until the IV lines are in place. Some call it a policy shrouded in secrecy. The Virginia Department of Corrections says it’s in line with the practice in other states.

In 2017, let the grocery wars begin. We said goodbye to Martin’s and hello to Lidl, some new Aldi stores and Publix moved in.

Out in 2017 – Richmond School’s Superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden. The Richmond School Board abruptly announced they no longer desired his services.

“There are some things that I hoped that we could have finished. I would love to see the new program launched but things changed,” said Bedden in an exclusive interview with 8News.

Tragedy rocked Richmond in May when Virginia State Police Special Agent, Michael Walter was gunned down in a joint operation with Richmond police.

“Mike made the ultimate sacrifice yesterday. When Mike suited up and came to work and left his family he never would have thought he would not be going home,” said Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham.

Who can forget that day in August when a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville turned deadly.

Heather Heyer was killed when a man drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters. Compounding the tragedy, two state troopers assisting with the unrest were killed when their helicopter crashed.

Governor Terry McAuliffe has this to say,

“I have a message to all the white supremacist and the Nazi’s who came into Charlottesville today, go home.”

That chaotic scene mixed with rage, hate and violence put Virginia in the national spotlight. The aftermath prompting heated debates about Confederate monuments and school names across the country.

In September, that debate hit the streets of Richmond.

Protestors and counter-protestors lined up and down Richmond’s Monument Avenue and residents saw a police presence like no other complete with fully armed officers, riot gear and trucks parked as barricades.

Overall, the Richmond protest was peaceful but it came with a hefty price-tag, costing taxpayers more than $570,000.

In November, Virginia elected a new Governor, ousted some long-time leaders and made history voting in the first transgender lawmaker.

Governor-elect Ralph Northam had this to say on election night, “Today Virginian’s have answered and spoken.”

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