York County's top 10 stories of 2016
The election of a business tycoon/reality TV star as president of the United States was hands-down the top story of 2016.
As a battleground state, Pennsylvania was a regular stop for the candidates, and at times York County and the surrounding area felt like the epicenter the campaign, attracting either the top of the tickets or their close surrogates for rallies.
Trump claimed at one of those local stops that the only way he could lose the Keystone State was if the election were rigged. His eventual win in Pennsylvania was the first for a Republican presidential candidate since George H.W. Bush, although consistently red York County’s big vote for the mogul was hardly a surprise.
Below are the rest of the top 10 local stories of the year.
Racism at Tech: Trump’s campaign was marred by allegations of racism, and the day after the election, a video emerged of students at the York County School of Technology marching through the halls with a Trump sign while someone yelled "white power."
Numerous students left early that day and didn't return to school that Thursday. By Friday, there were protesters outside, representatives from the state’s Department of Education and Human Relations Commission inside, and Gov. Tom Wolf had condemned the "overt racism" at the school.
The result was the formation of a group of students that will meet regularly with administrators to deal with racial issues, which some of the youths said existed at Tech long before the election.
West York’s mayor: Former West York Mayor Charles Wasko resigned after racist posts were discovered on his public Facebook page in September.
The mayor posted several pictures that appalled residents and borough council members, including two that compared President Barack Obama and his family to apes and one that suggested Obama should be hanged with a noose.
Before finally stepping down in October, Wasko was unapologetic, calling the outrage over his social media posts a smokescreen to cover up what’s “really going on” with the borough council.
“The racist stuff, yeah I’ll admit I did that, and I don’t care what people label me as,” he said on camera for a local television news crew.
Amanda Strous killed: The night of June 18, Amanda Strous, 27, was pulled from her burning apartment in North Carolina. The former star field hockey player at Dallastown and then Shippensburg University was declared dead at a hospital, where it was determined she had been strangled.
Matthew Benner, 28, who lived in the same apartment complex, has been charged in her death.
Hundreds of people attended the funeral for Strous, who was working as a counselor at Central Piedmont College, having received a master's degree from Shippensburg in mental-health counseling.
While an undergraduate, she was the captain of the field hockey team her senior year, when Ship played in the NCAA Division II national championship game.
The Dallastown Foundation Scholarship Committee created a scholarship in her honor for students who have shown academic excellence and an interest in field hockey, psychology or art, as Strous did.
Medical marijuana: The yearslong fight to make medical marijuana legal in Pennsylvania ended with a victory in April 2016.
State Sen. Mike Folmer, a Republican whose district includes part of York County, sponsored the legislation, aided by advocates such as Cara Salemme, a North Codorus Township mother who fought for her 9-year-old son’s right to use medical marijuana to treat his debilitating seizures.
Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize a comprehensive medical marijuana program, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Isabel Rose Godfrey: Just after 6 p.m. on June 8, police discovered the body of 3-year-old Isabel Rose Godfrey in Jackson Township.
Her bruised, lifeless body was found on the floor of her family's home, with several deep bite marks on her torso. Nearby were open packages of synthetic pot — also known as spice and K2 — and a smoking pipe, documents allege.
The girl’s mother, Regina Lester, was naked and acting erratically when officers arrived at the scene, and the woman had told a neighbor she had to kill Bella to get the "darkness" out of her, according to documents. Lester also allegedly threatened to kill a neighbor's children, police have said.
She’s charged with homicide, child endangerment and making terroristic threats.
Children, Youth and Families: Isabel Godfrey’s family had an active case with York County’s Office of Children, Youth and Families, the child protection agency that spent most of 2016 trying to avoid a state takeover.
In November the agency received its first full license from the state since 2014. At the time, it was operating on its fourth consecutive provisional license, and one more failed inspection would have meant the state's Department of Human Services would assume control of day-to-day operations.
High staff turnover and a dramatic increase in reported child-abuse cases after a 2015 revamp of state child-abuse laws were cited as the main reasons it failed to meet state standards.
Unemployment centers: More than 500 state employees lost their jobs this year in what some are calling a political battle between two York County political heavyweights — state Sen. Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township, and Gov. Tom Wolf.
The state Department of Labor and Industry workers were furloughed this month because the state Senate canceled a vote on emergency funding for the department before its session ended. Wagner told The York Dispatch at the time that he led the charge against holding a vote in a Republican caucus meeting preceding the last scheduled session day.
Without the $57.5 million from the proposed bill, the department said, it was forced to lay off hundreds of employees and close service centers in Lancaster, Altoona and Allentown, effective Dec. 19.
Wagner has said the criticism should not be directed at him but at Wolf, "a failed governor that is seeking to salvage his political career and is using the livelihood of state employees as pawns to do so."
York High football: It was a tumultuous 10-week season for the William Penn Senior High School football team in 2016.
There was a shooting in the parking lot of Small Athletic Field during the Bearcats' Sept. 9 home opener against J.P. McCaskey, forcing the game to end early. It also led the school board to move York High's other 2016 home games to Saturday afternoon for security reasons.
A team member, Eugene Hillian IV, was shot and killed Oct. 25, and a few days later, on Oct. 29, head coach Russ Stoner was allegedly threatened by former Central York athlete Bernard Charles Jones III during the team’s final game of the season.
Northeastern volleyball: The Northeastern boys' volleyball program has achieved almost legendary status within the state of Pennsylvania over the past few years.
In 2016, the Bobcats captured their fourth straight PIAA Class AA state championship. They finished the season at 23-0 and were ranked No. 1 in Pennsylvania and No. 4 in the nation by MaxPreps.com.
To cap off the season, the team’s entire starting lineup was named to the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association Class AA All-State Team.