The year 2021 is best defined by the acronym that dominated headlines throughout the world for the second straight year: COVID-19.

The pandemic touched lives in every corner of the community as it ebbed and flowed. It led to an unruly School Board meeting as parents protested the possibility of mask mandates and it resulted in tears from the families and friends of the people who lost their lives to the virus.

Look back over the past year with the Standard Press’ ranking of the top 15 local news stories of 2021 in this week’s edition.

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Here’s a look at some of the other stories in this week’s edition:


POTENTIAL DAM COSTS: City of Burlington officials have provided a property tax impact analysis for the options to improve or remove the Echo Lake Dam. The costs on the average home range from $20 to $89 annually for 20 years.


TEACHER FIRED: A Burlington man accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl is no longer employed by the Wheatland J1 School District. District Administrator Marty McGinley, of Wheatland Center School, confirmed on Dec. 23 that Zachary Wendt will not return as band teacher as he continues to face charges in Racine County Circuit Court.


REBRANDING EFFORT: City of Burlington officials learned last summer through a study conducted by a consultant its “City of Trails” concept would not work as the community looks to rebrand itself. However, since then, consultant Jay Graham from Rockford-based GrahamSpencer has continued to work with the city in identifying a key branding concept.


A COVID PLEA: Advocate Aurora Health, like many health care providers, continued to experience a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations and issued a call to communities to take public health precautions. The provider took out full page ads in major newspapers in Milwaukee, Chicago and Green Bay to get its point across.


THE BEST IN SPORTS: From a national collegiate record to a state cross country championship, Burlington athletes left their marks on the sports world in 2021.