Preparing for an upcoming year-in-review program on KIMA, television reporter and managing editor for the station Craig Galbraith spoke to members of the Sunnyside Kiwanis Club Thursday morning.
The Sunnyside native said he has been working on the program highlighting the top 15 stories of 2004 from Ellensburg to Prosser preparing for the Jan. 1, 2005 airing.
Just missing the top 15 was the City of Sunnyside's purchase of the Monson feed lot, said Galbraith as members of the club attempted to guess what the top news stories of the year would be.
Also just missing the list was the mad cow disease incident in Mabton, since the case of the deadly disease was actually found in December 2003, said Galbraith.
Number 15 on the list, he said, was the gay minister in Ellensburg who was put on church trial. He said the Methodist minister ended up leaving the area, but the issue was big enough to make the top 15 news stories.
The Mt. St. Helens scare is #14, he said, explaining that if it had blown it would have been ranked higher on the list.
Also making the top 15 was the 4-year-old Wapato boy who was attacked by dogs, other dog attacks on humans and dog attacks on other animals such as horses and goats, which was #13. Galbraith said 2004 marked a year of numerous attacks around the Valley.
"Part of the money from the sales tax increase that voters approved will go for an additional animal control officer," said Galbraith.
Making #12 was the county jail siting, lack of funding and rising costs.
"It didn't rank higher because it's an ongoing issue," said Galbraith.
He added that tagged onto the jail siting issue was the fact that Al DeAtley, one of the major opponents of the jail, was awarded a bid for the project.
The rumors in the Valley about immigration busts this past summer made #11 on the list. He said his station received calls that the Department of Homeland Security agents were stopping people in store parking lots and demanding they show their papers. The department denied allegations.
"There was no resolve as to if it was actually happening or not," said Galbraith.
Number 10 is the Prosser controversy over police officers wanting the police chief ousted and the city finances.
The ongoing Snokist strike made #9 on the list, said Galbraith. He said the strike continues, even though the workers have been replaced.
Number 8 on the list is the arrest of the Kittitas County arsonist, whose fires drove many families from their homes.
Also fire related was #7, which is the Tieton warehouse fires. The first fire caused $15 million in damages. The second, a few days later, brought more suspicion to the incidents. They were determined accidental.
What Galbraith tagged as probably the most unusual event of the year was the Yakima woman who went missing from the Target store parking lot.
"The family swore she had been abducted from the parking lot," said Galbraith.
Four days after she went missing she checked herself into a Yakima hospital.
"We never really found out what happened there," he said.
Sen. Alex Deccio's racial slur made #5 on the 2004 news story list for KIMA. Although Deccio apologized from the Senate floor, some of the repercussions filtered down to the community of Yakima.
The teens' attack on the pigs in White Swan made #3 on the list. They were sentenced to counseling as part of their plea, said Galbraith.
The #2 slot went to all of the political things that have gone on this year, from the pending governors race to Vice President Dick Cheney visiting Yakima.
The top story of the year, however, has been shrouded in secrecy. Galbraith said the top story for 2004 will be revealed in the half hour special scheduled for Jan. 1, at 7 p.m.
"Once you're tired of football that day you can switch it over and watch us," he added.