Top stories of 2016 feature anger and violence, but also plenty of hope

Forest Hurd give his son, Silas, the Medi-Haze B marijuana tincture every four hours during the day to help control his seizures on Monday April 25, 2016 in Penn Valley, Calif. The elder Hurd quit his job so he could provide more care for his son.
Forest Hurd give his son, Silas, the Medi-Haze B marijuana tincture every four hours during the day to help control his seizures on Monday April 25, 2016 in Penn Valley, Calif. The elder Hurd quit his job so he could provide more care for his son. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

News in 2016 had several faces, attractive to readers in their own ways.

Some were ongoing issues, covered as new developments emerged. Others were presented as multi-part projects. Still others were breaking news.

Regardless of type, however, these stories had in common a connection with readers. We hope you find them worth another look.

RELATED: These videos touched, rocked, shocked and stirred up Sacramento in 2016


Tough year at UC Davis

UC Davis dominated large swaths of news real estate in 2016, the denouement of a multi-act drama that began in 2012 featuring the university chancellor, Linda Katehi. Dogged by unflattering reports of misjudgments, violations and misstatements, Katehi resigned from the university’s top position in August. The story selected was part of the overall tale and garnered more readership than any other on sacbee.com during the year.

▪  UC Davis spent thousands to scrub pepper-spray references from Internet

The killing of Joseph Mann

Joseph Mann, a mentally ill homeless man, was shot to death by Sacramento police in July. Circumstances surrounding the killing, along with voice and video recordings of the incident and the run-up to it, provided an ongoing narrative that has led to powerful debate and new procedures and oversight within the police department. The story here is one of the issue’s most dramatic.

▪  Sacramento police tried to run over man before shooting him, recordings reveal

Long journey to safe separation

When the Sandoval twins, Eva and Erika, were sedated they were conjoined, sharing much of a body and many organs. When they awoke, they were separate little girls, the answered prayers of a community that followed their hopeful, often-wrenching story.

▪  ‘They look amazing.’ Conjoined twins Erika and Eva survive separation surgery

How did they protest neo-Nazis? With their own violence, of course

A violent clash between neo-Nazis and anarchist and self-proclaimed “anti-fascist” protestors turned the state Capitol grounds into a chaotic scene of attacks and counter-attacks. Included was an assault on a TV reporter and his cameraman by people who said they opposed the neo-Nazis.

▪  At least 10 hurt at chaotic, bloody neo-Nazi rally at Capitol

Abduction and safe return, amid unsolved mystery

Sherri Papini, a Redding woman who underwent a harrowing ordeal before turning up battered by ultimately safe, became something of a lightning rod. Her disappearance, brutal mistreatment and reappearance in chains led to fear and elation, along with skepticism and unanswered questions. Her community welcomed her home. The story remains unfinished.

▪  Redding celebrates Sherri Papini’s return, dismisses her doubters at welcome-home party

Golden State’s top dog marks his territory

California Gov. Jerry Brown, rallying a room of scientists, flashed signs of outright defiance of the federal government should President-elect Donald Trump impede his state’s attempts to thwart the threat of climate change.

▪  Jerry Brown strikes defiant tone: ‘California will launch its own damn satellite’


Hoping for a better life, they found ‘No Safe Place’

They helped U.S. military and civilian personnel during war in Afghanistan, often at great personal cost. As a reward, many of these Afghans were allowed to come to the United States, a safer, promising life ostensibly awaiting them. But for many, that better life has not happened.

▪  Afghans risked their lives for U.S., now struggle in Sacramento

After the fire, rebirth

An epic wildfire blackened thousands of acres and destroyed nearly 1,300 homes in Lake, Sonoma and Napa counties in September 2015. Four people perished. The community of Cobb was laid waste. The story of its rebirth is riveting.

▪  From the ashes: Recovery on Cobb Mountain

When watching your child suffer is not an option

Young Silas Hurd’s seizures were devastating, his life-threatening epilepsy defiant in the face of all treatment. Chemicals found in marijuana helped, but even the medicinal success did not quell social and political resistance.

▪  The Silas Project: Can experimental marijuana treatments save a young boy’s life?

Religious rituals at the group home

Sacramento-area home for teen sex-trafficking victims was cited this year after performing a religious ritual on one of the girls. The clash underscores the tension that can arise when faith-based service providers get government funding to care for vulnerable clients.

‘Spiritual warfare,’ ‘demonic attacks.’ The role religion played in home for sex-trafficking victims

Younger, more dangerous nursing homes

Once thought of as “rest homes” for the frail and elderly, California nursing homes are changing. Today’s residents are getting younger – 1 in 5 is now under 65. And some come in with unique circumstances: mental illness, drug addiction, homelessness and criminal histories. The mix, say advocates, is volatile and sometimes dangerous.

Shifting population in California nursing homes creates 'dangerous mix'

Lead, guns and controversy

The yards of nearly two dozen homes near the closed Mangan gun range will be tested in the coming days. The range was closed in 2014 after repeated tests showed it was contaminated with lead dust. Further tests found lead dust on the roof, and a recent wind model raised concerns that the dust might have spread into the surrounding neighborhood.

Shuttered gun range in south Sacramento park leaked toxic lead dust


Cousins lashes out

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins continued to develop into one of the NBA’s elite players. But Cousin’s behavior, a repeated concern for the team he purports to lead, again failed to meet standards required by a team desperate for good relations with a city that is providing millions to help pay for a new arena and fans who have for years overlooked poor performance.

▪  DeMarcus Cousins unleashes profanities at Bee reporter in latest attempt to control the media

Dave Joerger takes up challenge of rebuilding Kings

The Kings chose Dave Joerger as their head coach in May, handing him the keys to a vehicle that has shown itself to be ill equipped to run the high-octane race that is an NBA championship season. Signs of improvement are being seen. Is Joerger the guy? Is this finally the time?

▪  New coach Dave Joerger yearns for Kings’ style of heyday


West chooses Golden 1 Center to go south

Kanye West, one of the big-name entertainers brought in to launch Golden 1 Center as an A-list performance venue, stiffed the full-house crowd that turned out on Nov. 19. West cut into his musical act to make room for a socio/political/hair-on-fire rant that puzzled, shocked and angered fans, who eventually were promised refunds of their wasted money.

▪  Kanye West cuts Sacramento show after 30 minutes, fans enraged

Flabby, disagreeable and calling the shots

While it’s true that virtually every generation looks at kids as being unruly, pains in the neck and on the verge of creating chaos and anarchy, certain studies and experts claim that today’s little ones really call and dance to their own tunes.

▪  Why kids today are out of shape, disrespectful – and in charge