Steve Kraske

Before 2013 fades from view, here was the year that was

Updated: 2013-12-21T02:38:38Z

By STEVE KRASKE

The Kansas City Star

Here’s my ballot for a year about to disappear into the history books:

Local person of the year: Civic leader Adele Hall. Runner-up: Neal Patterson, whose booming Cerner Corp. is upgrading Kansas City seemingly by the week.

I don’t like posthumous tributes, but Hall’s case is an exception. Sometimes when someone of Hall’s stature passes, the foundation of a city wobbles. That was the case when Hall died unexpectedly in January.

It’s easy to forget just how many lives she touched. She was the first female president of the Heart of America United Way and the board chairwoman at Children’s Mercy Hospital, and held a list of other positions that would fill this column. Say it was a Wednesday night in February, and a do-gooder organization was holding its annual banquet. Look over the audience, and Adele and Don Hall invariably would be dead center, in the first or second row.

She lifted this city. I speak for many who miss her, and miss her tons.

In 2013, the story that had the greatest impact on the area was: The January hiring of Andy Reid as the Chiefs’ head coach turned a loser into a big-time winner and elevated the mood of a town that has endured too much sports pain.

The news story that Kansas City would most like to forget in 2013 was: The abysmal rollout of Obamacare made worse by the thousands of area residents who went another treacherous year without health coverage. Unlike about half the other states, neither Kansas nor Missouri expanded Medicaid.

The biggest area winner in 2013 was: Kansas City Mayor Sly James, who enters the last full year prior to a presumed re-election run in 2015 with “untouchable” status. He’s an overwhelming favorite to win again. The only thing that would make life better for James would be more power via the Charter Review Commission. That’s unlikely.

The year’s most overhyped story was: The latest developments with Google Fiber. A transformation of the area was promised when the rabbit came along. Haven’t seen it.

The year’s most underappreciated story was: The rise of the U.S. economy. We saw 4.1 percent growth in the third quarter nationally. Locally, the housing industry had its best year since 2007. Apartment construction was the loftiest since 2001. Meantime, Cerner and BNSF Railway took big strides, while investments in local car plants soared. The glass is finally half-full.

True/false: The Chiefs will win the Super Bowl in February. Absolutely, undoubtedly TRUE, baby!

Hat tip to Nick Haines of KCPT’s “Week in Review” for the categories.

To reach Steve Kraske, call 816-234-4312 or send email to skraske@kcstar.com.

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