It might be the understatement of the decade, or even more, to say 2020 didn’t turn out quite like anyone expected. We here at The Chronicle are glad it’s coming to an end, and are looking toward the future. That being said, we’ve compiled a look back at our top stories of 2020, starting on page Main 2. All these stories and more are still available online at chronline.com.
January and February started off the year like many others, albeit with the looming threat of COVID-19 as it hit China first, then took off in the U.S. beginning in February.
School closures came in March, followed closely by a statewide shutdown of all but the most essential businesses and services.
On a national, regional and local level, most people reacted the same way. Toilet paper and guns sold out while we all tried to stay sane, work at home in our pajamas and bake bread in alarming quantities, with varying levels of success.
Meanwhile, Lewis County lost a Washington State Patrol Trooper and Adna grad, Justin Schaffer, in what can only be called a senseless killing by a fleeing suspect, who is still awaiting trial on a murder charge.
May began with the extension of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Stay Home Stay Healthy Order through the end of the month. People began finding new ways to come together. Most notably, teachers organized neighborhood drive-through parades to see their students, and families and friends had similar events for seniors reaching milestone birthdays.
Spring also saw the resurgence of social justice movements including Black Lives Matter after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minnesota. Protests shut down entire neighborhoods in Seattle, while locals joined in through their own smaller demonstrations.
In June, Chehalis’ Uncle Sam Sign was back in the headlines, Sheriff Rob Snaza went viral with his now famous “Don’t Be a Sheep,” line and Tenino brought back its wooden money.
Lewis County passed 100 cases of COVID-19 in July and police pulled off a large-scale bust of fentanyl and other drugs on Interstate-5 in Lewis County.
In August, the Lewis County Jail had a small outbreak of COVID-19 and rumors of an Antifa presence drew hundreds of counter-protesters, many armed, to Morton. Schools began making plans on how to safely begin the school year.
August also introduced Lewis County, and the world, to Jimmy Armfield, who now receives more mail than he can carry.
September showed an uptick in COVID-19 cases, though weekly totals didn’t hit triple digits until November, where they stayed through the end of the year. The county had its first death attributed to the virus in months in early October, and ended the year with 21.
September was a smoky month, with late-summer wildfires in Eastern Washington leaving a haze over the entire state.
In October, schools were still struggling with remote learning, and The Chronicle’s three-part series “Spanning the Digital Divide,” explored how the existing problems with access to high-speed internet in rural communities were exacerbated by the pandemic.
November began with the promise of hotly contested political races coming to a close and ended with Lewis County getting two new county commissioners and state representatives, and the country getting a new president.
The month also started a trend continuing through the end of the year — triple-digit weekly COVID-19 totals.
Which brings us back to December, where despite skyrocketing COVID-19 numbers, businesses — Spiffy’s in particular — and the town of Mossyrock bucked statewide restrictions on restrictions intended to curb that spread. As of the end of the year, Spiffy’s is facing steep civil and criminal fines.
Stay tuned for more on that in 2021.